Today's contemplation

Admin

Administrator
21st April
2061


Easter Day
On the Resurrection of Our Lord

Consider first, how the soul of our Saviour, immediately after his death, descends into the lower parts of the earth to visit and comfort the spirits of the just, to discharge them from their long confinement, and to change their prison by his presence into a paradise of delights. O how happy, how joyful a day was this to all the patriarchs and prophets when they were first blessed with the sight of him for whom they had longed for so many ages! How glorious was the sight of his triumph over all the powers of darkness - of his breaking down the strongholds of hell, and giving a plenary indulgence to as many souls as were capable of it, by their having died in the true faith and in the state of grace! In the mean time, whilst the soul of our Lord is exercising this charity, the blind malice of his enemies suggests to them to make fast his sepulchre and to guard it with soldiers, under pretence of preventing his disciples from stealing away his body and then publishing that he was risen from the dead. But O how vain are all the projects of men against the decrees of God! All this industry of theirs only serves to put the resurrection of our Lord out of all dispute, by rendering it absolutely impossible for his disciples (had their terrors and troubles allowed them so much as the first thought of such an unheard-of enterprise) to steal him away though they had ever so great a desire of it. So true is that of the wise man, Prov. xxi. 30, 'There is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord.’

Consider 2ndly, how early in the morning on Easter Sunday, being the third day, the day appointed for our Lord’s resurrection, his soul returns in triumph from the regions below, and, entering into his sacred body, imparts to it a new and immortal life, and, instead of the winding-sheet in which it had been wrapt up, clothes it now with all the glorious qualities decreed for the bodies of the Saints in a supereminent degree; and so brings it forth without resistance through the monument, (though hewn out of a rock and close covered with a very great stone, fastened down with irons,) unperceived by the guards, who were not worthy to see him in this glorious state. Yet, that they and all the world might know that he was risen indeed, they felt a great earthquake, and an Angel visibly descending from heaven removed the stone that covered the entrance of the monument and sat down upon it. The sight of this bright messenger of heaven carried with it such a terror that the guards became like men dead, and as soon as they were able to recover themselves ran away into the city, publishing the wonders they had seen, till the chief priests and elders stop their mouths with a large sum of money. Rejoice thou, my soul, to see thy Saviour thus victorious over all his enemies, and learn from this great example to bear up with courage under all thou mayest have to suffer from the wickedness of men, trusting in God that he will one day turn all these thy sufferings to thy greater good.

Consider 3rdly, those words of the Psalmist, which are applied by the Church in the office of this day to the resurrection of our Lord ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad, and rejoice therein.’ Ps. cxvii. 24. Yes, Christian souls, if you have taken part in the sufferings of our Redeemer, by the affections of compassion and grief at the sight of all those outrages and torments he endured in the course of his passion, it is just you should rejoice, now the scene is changed, at the sight of his being risen from the dead, victorious over death and hell, and his having entered upon a new and everlasting life, so that he can die now no more nor suffer any more. Rejoice, then, with a holy joy in the Lord, and join with the Church on this day in her repeated Alleluias, because your best friend, your true lover, your dear father, your king, your Lord and God is risen again, and this is the day of his triumph; he is now out of all reach of his enemies, and shall live and reign glorious for evermore. But see, my soul, whether thou art in proper dispositions to celebrate with this holy joy the resurrection of thy Lord. Hast thou endeavoured to die with him in order to rise again with him? Hast thou put off the old man and his deeds? Hast thou crucified the flesh and its lusts? Or does not sin still live and reign in thee? if so, how melancholy a reflection must it be to think that this monster, for the destruction of which Christ died, should still keep thee under slavery, struggling with the worst of deaths, whilst thou art celebrating the festival of thy Saviour’s rising to a new and immortal life.

Conclude, if thou desirest to have a share in the triumphs of thy Redeemer, to imitate his death by dying to thy sins, that so thou mayest also imitate his resurrection, and walk henceforward in the newness of life, after the great model given to thee by Jesus Christ.

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Admin

Administrator
22nd April

2070



Easter Monday
On the lessons we are to learn from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ


Consider first, that according to the doctrine of the Apostle, Rom. iv. 25, 'Christ was delivered up to death for our sins, and rose again for our justification,' inasmuch as his rising again from the dead was designed to be the model of our resurrection from the death of sin to the life of grace. But in what must our resurrection imitate that of Jesus Christ? First, we must imitate him by rising verily and indeed, that is, truly and really, and not in appearance only. Alas! how many at this time of Easter pretend to rise again with Christ by going to confession and communion, according to the custom of Christians at this season, and yet, after all, only deceive themselves and impose upon others with false appearances of life, and never rise in effect? Because they do this great work but by halves their heart is not changed, they do not effectually renounce their sins; their pretended resurrection is but an empty, airy phantom; they are still dead in their sins. See, my soul, that this be never thy case. Ah! what will it avail thee to deceive thyself and thy confessor with these treacherous appearances of a false life, which can only serve to plunge thee deeper into the worst of deaths!

Consider 2ndly, that when Christ rose again from the dead he presently quitted his monument; he left his winding-sheet behind him, and retained nothing at all of death, and from that time he had little conversation with mortals, but only with his heavenly Father - to teach us that if we would rise with him to the purpose we must also quit our winding-sheets and monuments, and all the appurtenances of death, by renouncing bad company and the dangerous occasions of sin: by keeping our passions under, and by breaking the force of all former bad habits, till no symptoms of death remain in us. But then, in order to walk in this newness of life, we must aim as much as we can to walk with God, by an inward solitude and a recollection of spirit, and to have our conversation in heaven by frequent and fervent prayer. Give ear to the Apostle, Colos. iii., ‘If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then shall you also appear with him in glory.’ O that we were always possessed with these sentiments! O that we could die to all things else that we might truly live in God, with Christ, and through Christ!

Consider 3rdly, that ‘Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more: death shall have no more dominion over him.’ - Rom vi. 9. So that if we imitate his Resurrection, we must also rise in such a manner from the death of sin as to die no more by returning again any more to our sins; but to 'reckon ourselves henceforward to be dead to sin, but alive to God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ - v. 11. This, then, is the great lesson we must learn from the resurrection of Christ - we must rise with him so as to continue for ever to live with him, and to return no more to the dominion of death.

Ah! Christians, if you be now risen indeed from the death of sin to the life of grace, dread a second death by relapsing into mortal sin above all other evils that can possibly befall you. O! remember that if the devil who has now been cast out of your soul, should take possession of you once more by a relapse, he would 'bring with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and your last state would be worse than the first,’ Matt. xii. 45.

Conclude with a hearty resolution of imitating in all these particulars the resurrection of our Lord. But especially take your precautions against returning any more to the death of sin after rising with Christ to a new life. To prevent so great an evil, be diligent in all your religious duties, be constant and fervent in prayer, fly all dangerous occasions, and keep up in your soul a perpetual horror of that hellish monster, sin. O! beg of God daily and hourly that you may rather die a thousand deaths, than once consent to deadly sin.

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Admin

Administrator
23rd April
2071


Easter Tuesday
On Our Lord's showing himself to His disciples
after His Resurrection


Consider first, the haste that our Lord made to comfort his blessed mother and his afflicted disciples by manifesting himself to them immediately after his resurrection. As to his blessed mother, though the gospel is silent, we cannot doubt but she was favoured with an early visit; that as she loved him most, and partook more than any other in the sorrows of his passion, so she might also in the joy of his resurrection. Learn, my soul, from hence that the way for thee also to experience something of the visits and comforts of heaven is to suffer and to love. The good women that went early in the morning to the monument with their sweet spices and ointments, to perfume the body of our Lord, were likewise favoured first with a vision of angels, and then with a sight of Christ himself, to teach us that the true way to find Christ is to rise early to seek him; to go in quest of him with the aromatical perfumes of ardent desires and devout affections; and to persevere in the search without being discouraged with apprehensions of difficulties and oppositions. These holy women are concerned who should roll away the stone for them from the monument, that they might come at the body of our Lord, for it was exceeding great; but lo, when they came to the place they found the stone was rolled away to their hands: to teach us that if we continue constant in our good resolutions, God will remove those difficulties we apprehend, or enable us by his grace to overcome them.

Consider 2ndly, the favour our Lord was pleased to show to penitent sinners at his resurrection, by honouring Magdalene amongst women, and Peter amongst men, with his first visits. Magdalene, from the time of her conversion, had constantly adhered to the Lord; she followed him even to the cross; she attended on him there till he gave up the ghost; she saw his body laid in the monument, and after the repose of the Sabbath day, she was up before light, and was the first at the monument with her perfumes. When she found him not, she ran to the apostles to tell them the body was taken away. Peter and John ran to the monument, and finding there the linen cloths without the body, went their way home again: but Magdalene stayed and continued her search, weeping and lamenting that she could not find him whom her soul loved, - till at length she saw his heavenly messenger, and shortly after himself in person, and was sent by him as an apostle to carry themselves the joyful tidings of his resurrection. O happy tears of love! O happy perseverance! O see, my soul, thou seek thy Lord in the like manner, and thou wilt infallibly find him.

Consider 3rdly, that Peter, who from the time of his fall had been continually weeping and bitterly bewailing his sins, was the first of the apostles that was favoured with the sight of our Lord, 1 Cor. xv. 5, and Luke xxiv. 34. At the first news brought by Magdalene of our Saviour’s body being missing, he took the alarm and ran to the monument, and not finding the body there went home, believing it had been taken away. But our Lord was pleased to remove this error by manifesting himself to him, and showing him that body alive which he sought among the dead. O what sentiments of confusion and repentance for his having denied the Lord of glory, mixed with a holy joy at the sight of his being now risen from the dead, filled the soul of the apostle upon this occasion! O how did he cast himself at the feet of his Lord, and there confess his crime, and how lovingly was he received to mercy, and favoured upon the spot with a plenary indulgence and absolution! And not only that, but to show the unspeakable bounty of our Lord to repenting sinners, a little while after, when our Lord manifested himself to him again, John xxi., he was pleased to advance him to the supreme pastoral charge over all his flock, by committing to him all his lambs and all his sheep, and to promise him the glory of following him, even to the dying upon a cross, for him: all in consequence of that most ardent love of which he three times required a profession of him, 'Lovest thou me more than these?' as it were in opposition to his three denials.

Conclude, whatever thy case may be, and however thou mayest have denied thy Saviour by word or deed, to return now to him by repentance and love, and 'if thy sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow,’ Isaias i. 18. Love is the shortest way to the remission of sins, and to all other good.



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Admin

Administrator
24th April
2072



Easter Wednesday
On Our Lord Showing Himself to the Disciples
going to Emmaus. Luke xxiv.


Consider first, how two of the disciples going from Jerusalem to a neighbouring town called Emmaus, on the very day of our Lord’s resurrection, while they were discoursing together on the way and making him the subject of their conversation, were also favoured with his presence, yet in such a manner as not to know him. He overtook them on the way and joined their company, and after upbraiding them with their slowness of belief, explained to them the Scriptures that related to his passion and resurrection, and enkindled in their hearts the fire of devotion. See, Christians, the great advantage of pious conversation, such especially as has Christ for its subject - it even draws him down from heaven into our company. We may in some measure apply to it what our Lord says, Matt. xviii. 20, 'When there are two or three gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.’ Luke vi. 45. What a pity then there should be generally so little of God in the conversation of Christians! Alas, how can this forgetfulness of God be reconciled with our loving him? We naturally delight to speak of what we love - 'for from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh:’ how then can we flatter ourselves that the love of God is the master of our hearts, when we seldom care to speak of him? Surely this is not the way to engage Christ to be in our company.

Consider 2ndly, that our Lord was not known at first by these disciples, because their faith in him was weak and imperfect. See, my soul, if the weakness of thy faith be not also the reason why he does not manifest himself to thee, so as to let thee know him indeed, as the Saints have done. St. Gregory takes notice that these disciples were not enlightened so as to know Christ whilst they only heard his words, but were quickly enlightened in the fulfilling of his commandments, by the exercise of hospitality and charity, to teach us that the way to come at the knowledge of God and of those truths which as yet we are ignorant of is to practise, to the best of our power, what we know already of his heavenly will. These disciples ‘knew our Lord in the breaking of bread:’ to teach us that there is no better way to come at the perfection of the knowledge and love of God, than a worthy participation of the bread of life in the blessed Eucharist.

Consider 3rdly, how these disciples took notice that their hearts were burning within them whilst they were in the company of our Lord and enjoyed his heavenly conversation, Luke xxiv. 32. My soul, dost thou desire to experience something of these sacred flames? Seek them in the company and conversation of Christ. Alas! the reason why thou art so lukewarm, or rather downright cold in thy devotions, is the continual dissipation of thy thoughts at other times, and a habit of indulging vain amusements, which fill thy inward house with such disagreeable company as keep Christ away from thee and rob thee of his sweet conversation. O how happy mightest thou be if by banishing all these impertinences by a spirit of recollection, thou wouldst endeavour to keep thyself always close to thy Saviour, and like the ancient Saints to walk with him! A diligence in this would make thee begin to enjoy a heaven upon earth.

Conclude to study well these lessons, which our Lord desires we should learn from his manifestations of himself after his resurrection. But especially learn to seek always the happiness of his company and conversation, in thy own interior: there is the school of divine love.

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Admin

Administrator
25th April
2073



Easter Thursday
On Our Lord's manifesting Himself to all
the Apostles. Luke xxiv. John xx.


Consider first, how on the evening of the same day of our Lord’s resurrection, when the doors were shut where the disciples were gathered together for fear of the Jews, our Saviour came in, and stood in the midst of them, and said to them: ‘Peace be to you!’ and then showed them the wounds of his hands, of his feet, and of his side. Admire the qualities of his glorious body now risen from the dead, which like a spirit passes through the doors, and is seen on a sudden in the midst of his disciples, and yet shows itself to be true and palpable flesh, by exhibiting those sacred wounds, to be felt by their hands. See how on this occasion, he at once both confirms their faith, and inflames their love, by bearing about him those marks of his passion, the most convincing testimonies of his love. My soul, thou hast this same glorious body, with all its endowments, in the blessed sacrament; and though thou neither seest it, nor feelest his wounds with thy bodily senses, thy faith assures thee that he is there, and discovers to the inward eye, both his whole passion endured for the love of thee, and the glory of his resurrection. Let this suffice to enkindle the fire of his love in thy heart: do not desire to see or to feel his wounds, like Thomas; nor lodge thy hand in his side, but thy heart: ‘Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed,’ John xx. 29.

Consider 2ndly, how our Lord said again to his disciples, ‘Peace be to you; as the Father hath sent me, I also send you.’ Then breathing upon them, he said: 'Receive ye the Holy Ghost whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven them and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’ See how ample this authority is which he here imparts to his apostles and to their lawful successors, that is, to the pastors of his true church, descending from the apostles; as his heavenly Father sent him, even so he sends them, furnished as he was with all spiritual power and jurisdiction for the rule of his Church, and the dispensation of his word, and of his sacraments; and commissioned by him, as he was by his Father. Give thanks, my soul, to thy Saviour, for having left, for thy benefit, this ample power and commission with the pastors of his church, and furnished thee by this means with guides divinely commissioned, and divinely assisted, and for having given to them the keys, that they might open heaven to thee. See thou despise not the ordinance of God, nor proudly resist his commissioners, to thy own condemnation.

Consider 3rdly, more in particular, the power of forgiving or retaining sins, here imparted by our Lord to the lawful pastors of his Catholic church. ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost, (said he); whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’ In these words our Lord was pleased to communicate his divine Spirit, the Holy Ghost, to his disciples and their successors, in order to make them his delegates in the court of conscience, to sit as judges there, to take cognizance of all spiritual causes, and to pass sentence, either in favour of (penitent) sinners, to loose them from their sins by absolutions, or to bind them, as the case should require, by censures, penances, or delay of absolution. Give thanks for this sacred institution, sovereignly wholesome to Christian souls, in which poor sinners who desire to return to their God, may, by applying to the delegates of Christ, have the sentence of eternal damnation that stood against them reversed, and their absolution, pronounced on earth, ratified in heaven, upon the easy condition of an humble and secret confession, joined with a hearty repentance; and in consequence of such absolution, may be again received and admitted to the participation of all those goods from which their sins had excluded them.

Conclude to adore, praise, and give thanks to our Lord for all these blessings he brought with him at his resurrection, and not only imparted to his disciples then living, but entailed upon his church for ever. Particularly acknowledge and embrace that last legacy of his perpetual presence with his church, which he bequeathed on the same occasion, in the three last verses of the gospel of St. Matthew, when he said: 'All power is given to me, in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, &c., and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.’

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Admin

Administrator
26th April
2075



Easter Friday

On the peace of a Christian

Consider first, that as our Saviour, the night before his passion, bequeathed his peace to his disciples, saying, John xiv. 27, ‘Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you’ so also after his resurrection he three times wished them his peace, saying, ‘peace be to you,’ John xx. But what kind of peace is this that he so much inculcates, and so earnestly desires to impart to us? Not the peace which the world pretends to give, which is false and deceitful like itself - they say ‘peace, peace, and there is no peace,’ Ezek. xiii. 10. to - but ‘the peace of God which surpasseth all understanding,’ Philip. iv. 7. A threefold peace; viz., a peace of the soul with God, a peace with every neighbour, and a peace with herself. It is both the duty and happiness of a Christian to maintain this triple peace. And first, whosoever desires any degree of happiness, either here or hereafter, must take care to keep an inviolable peace with God, by ever flying wilful sin, which is at enmity with God. For how can there be any good for them that are at war with God? 'Who hath ever resisted him, and hath had peace?’ Job ix. 4. ‘The wicked are like the raging sea, which cannot rest, and the waves thereof cast up dirt and mire: there is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord God,’ Isaias lvii. 20,21.

Consider 2ndly, that the Christian cannot maintain his peace with God if he does not also 'follow peace with all men,’ Heb. xii. 14; ‘and as much as lies in him, keep peace with all men,’ Rom. xii. 18. ‘For as no man can love God, that does not love his neighbour,’ 1 John iv., so no man can be at peace with God that breaks peace with his neighbour. ‘Tis then another branch both of the duty and of the happiness of a Christian to be at peace with every man, at least as far as lies in his power and in the unfeigned disposition of his soul; to renounce all animosity and rancour, all discord and contention, all malice and envy, and whatsoever else is opposite to fraternal charity, and to learn to bear, and to forbear, which are the two great means of keeping peace with our neighbours: when on our parts we forbear giving them any offence or provocation, either by word or deed, and at the same time bear with Christian meekness and charity all the offences or provocations we receive at their hands, and strive to overcome them by rendering good for evil. O how amiable is this character of the peaceable Christian! O how much happier is such a soul than one that is always at war with one neighbour or another, and always in a storm at home in his own interior!

Consider 3rdly, that another necessary branch of the Christian’s peace is, to be at peace within himself, by striving to banish from his own interior whatsoever may disturb the tranquillity of his soul. This inward peace, when it is perfect, is a certain foretaste of heaven; it is a kind of heaven upon earth. In such souls God is pleased to dwell, of whom the royal prophet sings, Ps. lxxv. 3, that ‘His place is in peace, and his abode in Sion.’ To come at this happy peace (besides taking care to keep peace with God, by a clean conscience, and with every neighbour, by concord and charity), we must have our passions mortified, our affections well ordered and regulated, and our desires restrained; we must banish all hurry and over eagerness; all sadness and melancholy; all scrupulous fears, anxious cares, and uneasiness about the things of this world; and, above all things, and in all things, we must conform ourselves to the holy will of God. Practise these lessons, my soul, and thou wilt be at peace, at least as far as the condition of thy mortal pilgrimage will allow of.

Conclude ever to aim at this threefold peace, with thy God, with thy neighbour, and with thyself; pray daily for it; and whatsoever fear, affection, or desire, or any other thing whatsoever offers to disturb thy heart, shut the door against it as an enemy, as a messenger of Satan, who comes to rob thee of thy treasure, the peace of thy soul.

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Admin

Administrator
27th April

2077


Easter Saturday
On the perseverance in Good


Consider first, that every Christian ought at this time, pursuant to the precept of the church of God, to have made his peace with God, and to have signed and sealed it with a worthy communion. So that it is the business of every Christian now at least, to begin a new life, and to walk henceforward in the newness of life, even to the end. 'Be thou faithful until death, and I will give thee the crown of life,’ saith our Lord, Apoc. ii. 10. Alas! what will it avail us to have made a good beginning at this time, if after having been 'enlightened, and having tasted the heavenly gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost' &c., Heb. vi. 4, we should quickly fall away, and return to our former darkness, and to the husks of swine, under the slavery of Satan? Would not our latter condition become worse than the former? That this may never be our case, we must consider upon the means that may effectually preserve us from relapsing into mortal sin, and that may maintain us in the happy state of the grace and love of God. In particular we must labour to establish in our souls a horror of the dreadful evil of sin, and of all the dangerous occasions of it; to keep up in ourselves a penitential spirit for what is past, joined with a lively sense of that infinite mercy that kept us so long out of hell, and so graciously received his prodigal children, when they offered to return to him; and with a firm resolution (which should be renewed every day and every hour) for no consideration whatever to turn our backs upon him any more by wilful sin. O how happy is that Christian who is ever ready to lay down his life rather than to return any more to sin!

Consider 2ndly, that another great means to persevere in good is to live by rule and order, to renounce an idle life, as the mother of all evil, and to regulate our time and all our daily exercises; to be constant in the performance of our devotions, and in frequenting the sacraments; and to take care to do well all that we do. Sanctity and perfection do not so much depend upon doing extraordinary actions, as upon doing our ordinary actions extraordinarily well; now, we shall do them extraordinarily well if we do them with a pure intention, for the love of God; and if we take care to season them with frequent and fervent aspirations to God. Thus, like the ancient Saints, shall we walk with God, and be perfect. This is the surest way to perseverance.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to perseverance in grace, it will be also necessary to set out and to continue in a full persuasion and conviction that we have not a more dangerous enemy to our souls than our own self-love, with all its branches and passions; that the gratifying our own humours is gratifying a mortal enemy; that we must deny ourselves, renounce ourselves, and hate ourselves in this life, if we would save ourselves for eternity. In a word, the mortification of our passions, and the total victory over ourselves, is the sovereign means of perseverance. In order to this, every Christian ought to study well to know himself and the true state of his own interior, that he may discover what passions are predominant there, and may turn all the forces of his soul against them, till he has quite subdued them. This warfare is one of the most essential duties of every disciple of Jesus Christ: no one shall be crowned by him, that has not fought and conquered himself. 'To him that overcometh he will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ Apoc. ii. 7.

Conclude, in order to perseverance in good, to practise well all these lessons, and particularly to be earnest with God in prayer, that he may be thy keeper, to keep thee from sin. O beg of God every day that thou mayest rather die a thousand deaths than once commit a mortal sin!

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Admin

Administrator
28th April

2079



Low Sunday

On the Sacrament of Baptism

Consider first, that we are often put in mind by the church in the office of this time of our baptism, to the end we may be rightly sensible of the dignity to which we have been raised by this sacrament, and of the obligations incumbent upon us in consequence of the same. Baptism is to our souls the gate of life - an introduction to all that is good. It is called by the Apostle, Tit. iii. 5, ‘the laver of re-generation and renovation of the Holy Ghost:’ inasmuch as we, who by our natural birth from the old Adam were born in sin, children of wrath, slaves of Satan, and liable to an eternal damnation, are cleansed from sin and sanctified in this sacrament, 'by the laver of water in the word of life,’ Eph. v. 26, in virtue of the blood of Christ here applied to our souls; and by virtue of the same we receive a new birth, by which we are regenerated and renewed, 'being born again of water and the Holy Ghost,’ John iii. 5, to a new and everlasting life, and are made children of the living God, and heirs to his eternal kingdom. See, my soul, and admire the riches of the bounty of thy God, poured out in thy favour, in this sacrament. But O! take care never to forfeit these excellent treasures by sin, nor to degenerate from this heavenly birth by an unworthy conversation.

Consider 2ndly, that by baptism we are incorporated in Christ and made living members of his mystical body, which is his church; we are made Christians, brethren of Christ, and temples of his Holy Spirit; we who before ‘were not his people, are now the people of God,’ 1 Pet. ii. 10, 'a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, called out of darkness into the admirable light of Christ,’ v. 9. We are dedicated, sanctified, and consecrated to God by this sacrament, to be irrevocably his, eternally devoted to his divine love. O happy dedication! O my soul, how little hast thou hitherto reflected on these truths! How little hast thou considered the dignity conferred upon thee in baptism! O remember, that what is once dedicated to God ought to remain always his, and that it is a sacrilege to profane or violate what is once consecrated to him. See then how pure and holy thy whole life ought to be, in consequence of thy being dedicated to God in baptism.

Consider 3rdly, that ‘all we who are baptized in Christ Jesus are baptized in his death, for we are buried together with him by baptism unto death: that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life,’ Rom. vi. 3, 4. 'Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, and that we may serve sin no longer,’ vi. 6, so that henceforward, in consequence of our baptism, ‘we must reckon ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord,’ vi. 11, and therefore, 'we must not let sin reign in our mortal body, so as to obey the lusts thereof,’ vi. 12. But as ‘Christ rising again from the dead dies no more, as death shall no more have dominion over him,’ vi. 9, so we must now die no more by sin, sin must no more have dominion over us. For 'as many of us as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ,' Gal. iii. 27, and ought to live so as to show forth the life of Christ in our mortal flesh, that we may be able to say too with the apostle; 'I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me,' Gal. ii. 20. Christians, compare your lives with these divine lessons; see what they ought to be, by the obligation of your baptism, and see what they have hitherto been; and now at least, labour in earnest to begin to live worthily of your calling, and of the glorious name and character of a Christian, and of a child of God.

Conclude to bear always in mind both the dignity to which you have been raised by your baptism, and the obligation of it; and ever to show forth in your lives that you are Christians indeed, by a constant imitation both of the death and resurrection of the Son of God.

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Admin

Administrator
29th April


2080




Monday after Low Sunday
On the Covenant of Baptism


Consider first, that in baptism we make a solemn covenant with God, by which he on his part adopts us for children, admits us to all the great and glorious advantages and prerogatives which belong to his children, and gives us an unquestionable right and title to the inheritance of his everlasting kingdom. But then, all this is upon articles, to which we on our part bind ourselves by the strongest engagements and vows, which if we violate, in that moment we forfeit both the dignity of children of God, and all the other excellent treasures we received at our baptism, together with all title either to the favour or the kingdom of God. The first of these articles, by which we engage ourselves to God in baptism, is the promise we there make ever to adhere to him by a firm and constant faith in all his divine truths. My soul, hast thou been true to this part of thy covenant? The faith which thou hast promised was not a barren, speculative belief like that of those who 'make profession of knowing God, but deny him in their works,’ Tit. i. 16.; but a 'faith that worketh by charity,’ Gal. v. 6; a faith that showeth itself by the life: ‘the just man liveth by faith.' Hath thy faith been such?

Consider 2ndly, that another article of our baptismal covenant was to wage a perpetual war with Satan; to renounce him for ever with all his works of darkness and sin, and all his pomps of worldly pride and vain glory; and to adhere to God by a strict and perpetual allegiance to his divine majesty. My soul, what has thy life hitherto been? Hast thou kept this covenant? Hast thou effectually renounced Satan? Hast thou constantly waged war against that usurper, that cruel tyrant, that mortal enemy of thy God? Or hast thou not suffered him to take possession of thee again by sin? Hast thou not been all thy life long his slave? Have not his works and his pomps had a greater share in thy affections than thy duty and allegiance to thy God? O, be confounded at thy past disloyalty and breach of covenant! O, dread the consequences of this perfidiousness: repent and amend.

Consider 3rdly, that in our baptism we also engage ourselves to a strict observance of the whole law and the commandments of our heavenly Father, our King, and our God; but more especially of the great commandment of 'loving him with our whole heart, with our whole soul, with our whole mind, and with our whole strength;' and of loving our neighbours as ourselves.’ For inasmuch as he there adopts us for his children and his heirs, in return he strictly requires of us the obedience due from children to such a Father; with a love and preference of him before all things else, and a perpetual conformity in all things to his blessed will. See now, my soul, upon how many titles thou belongest to God, and art bound to love him and to serve him with all thy powers. Thou art his by creation - he made thee for himself. Thou art his by redemption - the Son of God having purchased thee with his own blood: ah, at how dear a rate! Thou art his by dedication, being consecrated to him in baptism. And thou art his by all the articles of the covenant then made with him.

Conclude to observe, henceforward at least, these thy baptismal vows, and since God claims thy whole being upon so many titles, give thyself to him without reserve for time and eternity, by perfect obedience, conformity, and love. O, beg of him continually that nothing in life or death may ever be able to separate thee any more from him.

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Admin

Administrator
30th April

2081


Tuesday after Low Sunday
On the ceremonies of Baptism

Consider first, that the ancient ceremonies used by the Catholic church in administering baptism are very instructive, inasmuch as they show forth both the effects of this sacrament in the soul, and the duties incumbent on them that receive it. The person that is to be baptized is initiated as it were in Christ, by professing his desire of coming to him, by faith and the observance of the commandments; and then receiving upon his forehead and upon his breast the sign of the cross, to signify that the cross and passion of Christ is the source of all our good; that by this sacrament we are dedicated to Christ crucified, and must ever wear his badge, both on our forehead and in our heart. Then the catechumen is seasoned as it were for baptism, by a grain of salt solemnly blessed for that purpose, to signify the salt of true wisdom and that Christian prudence and discretion, which ought to season all we do, as also the seasoning of divine grace, which is to keep the soul from corruption of sin. Moreover, to make room for the spirit of God to come and take possession of the soul and to fix his dwelling there, the devil is cast out by solemn exorcisms, exsufflations, and prayers, and the senses of the soul are opened as it were to God by the application of the spittle to the ears and nostrils, with the Ephpheta, pronounced in imitation of our Lord, Mark vii. 34. O how great must that grace be for which the soul is prepared by so many mysterious ceremonies!

Consider 2ndly, that after this follows the solemn renunciation of Satan and of all his works and of all his pomps, as a declaration of an eternal war against this mortal enemy; and then, to give us to understand what kind of arms we are to furnish ourselves with for this warfare, we are anointed with consecrated oil on the breast and between the shoulders, to signify by this outward unction the inward unction of the Holy Ghost and his fortifying grace here given, to strengthen our breasts with heavenly charity, to love and keep the divine commandments, and to give force to our shoulders to take up our cross and to bear in a Christian manner all the labours, difficulties, and adversities of this mortal pilgrimage. To which is added, immediately after baptism, another unction on the top of the head, with the holy chrism; to signify our being by baptism incorporated in Christ, the great anointed of the Lord, and being solemnly consecrated to God for ever, by the unction of his grace; as all such things as are anointed with the holy Chrism are by the church dedicated to God for ever. Hence all Christians are called by St. Peter a kingly priesthood, from partaking in the dignity of Christ, and bring anointed through him with that holy unction with which God has of old anointed his priests, prophets, kings, and martyrs.

Consider 3rdly, that immediately after baptism, we are also clothed with a white linen garment, which the minister of God gives us, with these words, 'Receive this white garment, which thou shalt carry without spot or stain before the judgment-seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayest have eternal life:' Amen. And then, in allusion to the parable of the virgins that went forth with their lamps to meet the bridegroom, St. Matt. xxv., and of the servants that with the lights in their hands were ever ready to open the door to their Lord, St. Luke xii., we receive a lighted taper in our hand with these words, ‘Receive this burning light, and keep thy baptism, so as to be without reproof. Keep the commandments of God, that when the Lord shall come to his nuptials, those mayest merit him, together with all the saints, in the heavenly court, and mayest live with him for ever and ever,’ Amen. Which ceremonies put us in mind of the strict obligation of leading a holy and innocent life after baptism; of holding forth the light of faith in our lamps, to the edification of all men, and keeping them ever burning with the oil of charity and good works, till we meet our Lord in his heavenly kingdom.

Conclude from the consideration of all these mysterious ceremonies used in baptism, to settle in thy soul a great idea both of the dignity and of the obligations of a Christian, and to make it the business of thy life to correspond both with the one and the other. But O, take care above all things not to stain that robe of innocence by wilful sin.


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Admin

Administrator
1st May
2084


Wednesday after Low Sunday

On the evil of falling from the grace of Baptism

Consider first, that how much the greater the dignity is to which we are raised in baptism, and how much the more excellent the advantages are which we there receive, together with the inestimable treasures of baptismal innocence, grace, and sanctity: so much the more dismal is that fall, by which we forfeit, and lose in a moment, all that dignity, with all those advantages and treasures. A dreadful fall indeed! by which the poor soul falls from heaven to hell; from God to the devil; from being a child of God to be a slave of Satan and of sin, that is worse than Satan; from being the spouse of Christ to be the prostitute of unclean spirits; from being the temple of the Holy Ghost, to be the habitation of the wicked one. This abominable tyrant, in the very moment she sins, enters in and takes possession of her; he robs her at once of all her treasures of virtue, grace, and merit; of all her share in Jesus Christ, of all her true right and title to his kingdom, and of all true peace and joy; and in exchange for all these good things he offers her nothing but husks of swine, which cannot satisfy her appetite; nothing but mere toys and fooleries, poisonous baits, which delude her with a momentary sweetness, presently followed with a bitter remorse, and a long train of other evils, ending in death and hell.

Consider 2ndly, t
he folly and madness of the soul that consents to such an exchange. Alas! she exchanges all her good at present, and all her title to any good hereafter, either in time or eternity, for a mere bubble, a brutish passion, an irksome slavery, an eternal misery! Ah! unhappy sinner, open thy eyes and see the wretched bargain thou hast made! See how strangely thou hast been deluded to part with thy God and all thy good for something so base, vile, empty, filthy, foolish, and miserable, accompanied by so much remorse, by so much danger, and by so much falsehood and deceit. Before thy sin heaven was thine, God himself was thine; but now thou hast parted with thy God, thou hast sold him for a mere nothing, thou art no longer his, thou hast made him thy enemy, thou hast exchanged heaven for hell, thou standest upon the very brink of a miserable eternity, thou are just ready to fall down that dreadful precipice. Can any folly or madness bear the least comparison with this?

Consider 3rdly, the enormity of the treason which the soul is guilty of, when she falls from the grace of baptism. She renounces her allegiance to her King and God; she rebels against him to follow Satan, she even drives him from his throne, which he held within her; she expels him out of his temple, to make room for his enemy. She sets up an idol in the house of God, which she worships in contempt of the living God. She violates all her solemn vows; she sacrilegiously profanes the temple consecrated to God; she breaks his holy covenant; she treads under foot the precious blood of his Son; and, as much as lies in her, she crucifies him again. O my soul, hast thou had no share in all this guilt ? Alas! how early didst thou fall from thy baptismal grace into the bottomless pit of sin and misery! How quickly didst thou exchange thy God for Satan! Thou wast strictly bound in consequence of thy creation, thy redemption, thy baptismal dedication, and the covenant then made in thy name, to turn thyself to God, as soon as thou wast capable of knowing him, and to consecrate thy whole self to his love and service for evermore: and instead of this, hast thou not, at thy very first coming to the use of reason, like the rebel angels, turned away front thy God, by running after empty toys and lying follies, in preference to him, and thinking but little or nothing of him.

Conclude, if thy conscience charge thee with this guilt, to bewail for the whole remainder of thy life the loss thou hast sustained, the misery thou hast incurred, the folly and madness, the heinousness and the enormity of this thy fall from God. And in order to make amends, after the best manner thou art capable of; endeavour now at least, and for every day and hour thou hast yet to come, to make a frequent offering of thy whole self without reserve, to the love and service of the divine majesty.


2085


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Admin

Administrator
2nd May

2094

Thursday after Low Sunday

On the theological virtues

Consider first, that as God is the sovereign spirit, and the sovereign truth, so they that would offer him an acceptable homage must worship him in spirit and truth, John iv. 24, by joining with the external adoration, praise, prayer, and sacrifice, which is offered him in the church of Christ, the internal homage of their hearts, and the pure worship of the three divine virtues of faith, hope, and love. Where these are daily exercised all is well; there God is, and all good; but where any one of these is wanting all goes wrong; nothing else can supply that defect. Embrace then, O my soul, these three virtues, with thy whole heart and affection, and they will bring thee to God. There is no other way to heaven and a happy eternity, but by faith, hope, and charity.

Consider 2ndly, that these three virtues are called theological and divine, from the immediate relation they have to God. They flow from him into our souls, and they take our souls along with them to him. They tend to him as the sovereign object with which they are taken up, and upon which they are wholly employed; and they are entirely grounded on him and on his divine attributes as their sole motive and foundation. Thus faith believes in him as the sovereign truth, and obliges the soul to bow down and to adore him as such; and to give an undoubted assent to all the truths revealed by him, because he is the sovereign truth, who neither can deceive nor be deceived. Thus hope puts her whole trust in him, worships him as the inexhaustible source of all good, and raises the soul to a lively expectation of mercy, grace, and salvation from him; grounding herself upon his almighty power, goodness, promises, and mercy, and the precious blood of his Son. Thus charity or divine love embraces him above all things; worships him by offering herself and all things else to him; loves him for his own infinite goodness’ sake, and all others that are made after his image and likeness for his sake. Thus these three virtues derive the excellence which they have above all others, from this immediate relation to the source of all excellence. O my soul, see thou give them the first place in thy inward house, and continually entertain them there. Make them thy favourites, and they will make thee the favourite of heaven.

Consider 3rdly, that to entertain these divine virtues in the soul, we must make frequent acts of them, otherwise they will quickly fade away and die. The soul that does not often exercise her faith by employing her thoughts upon the great truths of God and eternity, quickly forgets both God and herself; and by forgetting God and herself, is exposed to all manner of evils. In like manner, where hope is not frequently exercised by the help of prayer and consideration, it quickly degenerates into presumption. And as for charity or love, which is in the nature of a fire that is always active, it must needs die away if it be not maintained and kept alive by frequent exercise. As the just man lives by faith, according to the Scripture, so he must also live by hope and by charity; so that the whole life of a Christian ought to be continually influenced by these three virtues, which cannot be, without frequent acts of all the three. And this is the shortest and easiest way to all perfection.

Conclude to labour to acquire, and to entertain these divine virtues by frequent acts of them; and in order thereunto to be diligent in the daily exercise of mental prayer. In this school they are best learnt, improved, and brought to perfection.

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Admin

Administrator
3rd May

2095


Friday after Low Sunday
On Faith


Consider first, that 'Without faith it is impossible to please God,’ Heb. xi.6. This virtue is the groundwork and first foundation of all our good; here we must begin the work of our salvation. But, what is faith? Not, as some vainly imagine, a presumptuous confidence of the remission of our sins, and of our justification and eternal beatitude, excluding that humble fear, with which the Christian is taught to work out his salvation, Philip. ii. 12, Rom. xi. 20; but a firm belief of all those things that God has any ways revealed or promised; a close adhesion of the soul to all the divine truths, as coming from the eternal Truth; a firm assent, a bowing down of the soul to all that God has taught, how much soever above our comprehension or understanding. ‘Faith,’ says the Apostle, Heb. xi. i, 'is the substance’ (that is, the strong foundation) ‘of things to be hoped for; the evidence of things that are not seen.’ These good things we hope for, these truths unseen, are made as it were visible to the soul by faith; she embraces them, she adheres to them with a strong and undoubted assent, she casts down all proud thoughts and imaginations that raise themselves up against these truths of God, and she directs the whole conduct of her life according to this heavenly rule. This is that divine virtue of faith, to which the Apostle gives those great encomiums, Heb. xi. This it was that brought forth so many wonderful fruits in the ancient Saints, and made them the friends and favourites of God.

Consider 2ndly, that the merit of faith, which makes it so acceptable to God, consists in this, that it pulls down the pride of man, by captivating his understanding, and obliging it to believe what it cannot see, to adore what it cannot conceive, and to submit to truths that it can no ways reach to. Man fell originally from God by proud affectation of superior and more excellent knowledge than God was pleased to allow him, and which might make him like to God, Gen. iii. 5. And therefore it has pleased his divine majesty, that the first and most essential step for man to arise from sin, and to return to him, should be the humble assent of divine faith, which makes a sacrifice of what is most dear to our pride, that is, of the liberty we are so fond of; of thinking as we please in all matters, without restraint or control; and casts down all the powers of the soul to worship in the dark, truths, generally speaking, most incomprehensible to the understanding, most shocking to the will, and most humbling to the whole man.

Consider 3rdly, that the faith which God requires of us, and without which we can neither please him here, nor be happy with him hereafter, must be catholic, that is, it must be universal; it must extend itself to all revealed truths without exception. For as they all equally come from God by divine revelation, and are all built upon the same foundation, are all recommended to our belief by the same authority of the church of God, and all supported by those strong testimonies and evidences, by which the Scripture and Christianity itself are supported; it would be calling in question the divine veracity to dispute the truth of any one article duly proposed by the church; it would be in effect, the utter loss of all divine faith; because it would be believing by humour, and not by divine authority. Here we may say with St. James, ii. 10, 'He that offends in one point, becomes guilty of all;’ because he is a rebel against that truth by which they are all delivered. O! never suffer us, dear Lord, to be rebels to thy divine truth, or proudly to oppose our petty reasoning against any part of thy word, or the authority established by thee!

Conclude to lay this strong foundation of faith, if thou hopest to raise a spiritual building within thee in which God may choose to dwell, and which may entitle thee to an everlasting dwelling with God. To build upon any other foundation is to build upon sand.

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Admin

Administrator
4th May

2106


Saturday after Low Sunday
On the grounds of Faith


Consider first, that divine faith is grounded always upon God’s infallible truth, inasmuch as every assent of divine faith is given by the soul upon the motive of divine revelation: she believes all these truths because God has taught them, who is the truth itself and who cannot deceive, nor be deceived. Whosoever believes upon any other motive, and not upon the testimony of God, may have an opinion indeed of heavenly truths, or human faith concerning them, but falls short of divine faith, which wholly builds itself upon God’s truth. And therefore, divine faith carries with it a greater and higher degree of certainty than any human sciences whatsoever; because nothing can be so certain, as that truth itself cannot lie, and that what God has taught must needs be true. See then, my soul, what kind of assent God expects thou shouldst yield to all the truths he has revealed; he expects thou shouldst bow thyself down to them, earnestly embrace them, and firmly adhere to them as most certain and divine.

Consider 2ndly, that though the only proper motive upon which a Christian believes with divine faith the truths of religion be divine revelation, or the word and testimony of God, either contained in the Scriptures, or conveyed down by tradition; yet, as this testimony or revelation first delivered to the saints, must come to us recommended by such evidences as may be sufficient to convince us that God has spoken indeed, and has revealed these truths, and does require our assent to them as divine, therefore this sovereign Truth has been pleased to set such marks upon all the truths that come from him, and has stamped them in such a manner with his broad seal, as may fully satisfy all sincere seekers and lovers of truth of their coming indeed from his divine majesty so that it would be highly unreasonable for them not to yield to them that assent of faith which is due to divine truths. Of this nature are all the prophecies and miracles, and other arguments of credibility upon which the Christian religion is grounded, together with the innumerable tokens of divine favour, which recommend to us that illustrious society of the catholic church of Christ, which bears testimony to the divinity of all these truths.

Consider 3rdly, by descending to particulars, some of the many strong and weighty arguments and motives that give force to the testimony and authority of this church of Christ, considered as an illustrious society, bearing witness to those truths which she delivers as having received them from God himself. This great and most ancient society is, and has been for 1700 years, spread far and near through all the world; she was foreshown and foretold long before by many plain and glorious prophecies; she was established by Christ and his Apostles, by signs and wonders and innumerable miracles, the gift of tongues, and other gifts of the Spirit of God; she was miraculously propagated in a short time throughout the world, in spite of all the opposition of the whole earth and hell; she has been maintained ever since by the blood of millions of martyrs, and by the saintly and miraculous lives of millions of other servants of God in all ages and in all nations; she has been embraced and followed by all the best and wisest of men, and defended by the most goodly and learned; she has in fine, all this time held forth the light of God to the whole world, by her constantly and fervently preaching all holiness, by the purity and sanctity of her doctrine, and by the efficacy of it in the conversion of innumerable sinners, in the withdrawing thousands of all conditions from the broad way of the world to a recluse and penitential life, and inspiring thousands of her children with a desire of wholly dedicating themselves to divine love; so that she has at all times, and in all places, produced many eminent saints, whose whole lives have been standing miracles of divine grace, and standing testimonies of the truth of that faith and church which they all professed. These and many other arguments and motives of credibility loudly proclaim to all mankind, that the hand of God and his truth is, and always has been, with this illustrious society of the church of Christ; and that she is entirely to be credited in the testimonies she bears to the divine revelations of all that she proposes as matters of faith.

Conclude with giving thanks to the goodness and all-wise providence of the Almighty, who has not only revealed to his church his heavenly truths, for the healing our souls from all their maladies and bringing them to the very fountain of health and life, which is with him; but also has given that illustrious authority to her whom he has made the guardian and depository of his truths that if we are sincere in seeking we can not well fail of finding both her and them. But then remember that the faith of divine truths, how infallible soever, will never bring thee to God, except it be a living faith that works by charity in Jesus Christ, Gal. v. 6.

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Admin

Administrator
5th May
2110


Second Sunday after Easter
On a Lively Faith

Consider first, that the faith to which the word of God gives such high encomiums, and to which it attributes all the great things that have been done by the ancient Saints, is not a dead faith, like that of the devils, or of those wretched souls that are spiritually possessed by the devils, and who have little or no sense of divine truths; but a lively and active faith, that penetrates into the invisible things of God, and makes them familiar to the soul; that sets them continually before her eyes in their proper light, and gives them a constant influence over every step that is to be taken in her mortal pilgrimage. Such a faith as this is the source of all good to the soul; it keeps her in the remembrance and presence of God; it teaches her to watch diligently and to pray fervently; it encourages her to hope and to love; it gives her a horror for sin; it completely arms her against all her spiritual enemies, with a shield that is proof against all their fiery darts, with the helmet of salvation, and with the sword of the spirit, (which is the word and truth of God,) which puts to flight all the legions of hell, when employed against them by a lively belief. But where this lively faith is wanting, all goes to wreck and to ruin. Lord, do thou increase our faith and make it lively. O grant us this true heavenly wisdom, and all good things will come to us along with her, and she will effectually bring us to thee.

Consider 2ndly, how true it is, that the want of a lively faith is the source of all the evils that overrun Christendom. Look into all conditions of Christians, and see how sin and Satan everywhere reign, and how few there are, in comparison, that dedicate themselves in good earnest to what should be their only business. And whence comes all this? Do not these men all believe there is a God and an eternity? Do they not all believe that they were made by this God, in order to a happy eternity? Do they not believe there is a heaven and a hell, and that living in mortal sin is the broad road to hell? Do they not believe in a judgment to come, and an all-seeing eye ever upon them, that is one day to decide their cause according to their works, for life or death everlasting? Surely they believe all this, or they are not Christians. But the misfortune is, that their faith of all these, and such like Christian truths, is lulled asleep, or rather is quite dead; it has no influence on their lives, it puts little or no restraint upon their passions and lusts; so that in reality it is the want of a lively faith that fills the Christian world with all sorts of crimes, and that continually crowds hell with souls.

Consider 3rdly, that the Christian must come at this lively faith by desiring, seeking, and heartily praying for it. But the most effectual means of arriving at it is by serious considerations and daily meditations. The great Christian truths relating to God and eternity are very moving when they are duly weighed and considered; but they make little or no impression upon worldlings, who live in a perpetual forgetfulness of them. To bring forth a lively faith in the soul they must take deep root there. But how shall they take deep root if they are not suffered to sink deep into the soul by consideration? Hence the great difference between the good and the bad Christian, the saint and the sinner, is, that the one thinks, and the other does not think; the one keeps his faith alive by frequently meditating on divine truths; the other’s faith is dead, and his whole soul is laid waste with utter desolation, because he seldom or never thinks in his heart.

Conclude to labour for the acquiring and maintaining this lively faith, by praying well and living well, but more especially, by thinking well; for without this, thou wilt have little or no sense of God in thy prayer, and little or no sign of God in thy life.

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Admin

Administrator
6th May
2112


Monday after the second Sunday
On Divine Hope


Consider first, that hope is also a theological or divine virtue, and is no less necessary than faith to our eternal salvation. As by faith we believe in God, so by hope we put our whole trust in him. Faith builds itself upon God’s truth; hope builds itself upon his power, goodness, promises, and mercy. Faith believes all he teaches as coming from the sovereign truth, that cannot deceive nor be deceived; hope looks for all good from him, as the inexhaustible source of all good, with an assured confidence that he will not fail on his part of showing mercy, giving grace, and imparting salvation to us, through Jesus Christ, if we fail not on our part of applying to him in a proper manner, and performing the conditions he requires of us. This divine virtue produces many excellent fruits it comforts the soul under all the afflictions of this life, it supports her under all her labours, it encourages her to go on with vigour in her mortal pilgrimage, it raises her above this miserable world and all its toys, and fixes her heart in heaven. It is styled by the apostle, Heb. vi. 19, ‘The anchor of the soul, sure and firm,’ (not fastened in the earth, but in heaven,) 'entering in, even within the veil,’ to the true sanctuary, where our 'high priest Jesus Christ is entered for us,’ and there fixed in God himself. O happy anchor, which keeps our souls ever steady in the midst of all the storms we are liable to in this boisterous sea of the world, and by the help of which they are raised up to God!

Consider 2ndly, that divine hope keeps the golden mean between the two extremes, of despair on the one hand and presumption on the other, both of them reckoned amongst the sins against the Holy Ghost, because of their obstructing in a particular manner all the motions and graces of this divine spirit - despair, by wholly giving up the cause of God and the soul; and presumption, by rashly expecting salvation without complying with the necessary conditions, or using the means for it. Despair shuts out the Holy Ghost, by wilfully shutting up the gate of prayer, and excluding all other means of grace; and presumption, by setting up a way to heaven opposite to his divine appointments, and in which his grace will have no share. See, my soul, thou fly these two rocks, both of them infinitely injurious to thy God, and destructive of divine hope. Never give thyself up to despondence or despair, seeing thou hast so good a God, so rich in mercies towards all that call upon him, who has redeemed thee with the precious blood of his own Son, and who has promised all good through him, to all such as properly apply for it. But then beware also of the opposite extreme of presuming upon what he has not promised, or expecting to come to him by walking in a way that leads from him.

Consider 3rdly, that divine hope as well as faith serves very much for the arming the soul for her spiritual warfare, and for the overthrowing of all her enemies; because by the means of this virtue we are ‘Strengthened in the Lord, and the power of his might,' Eph. vi. 10; we exchange our weakness for his almighty strength and power; and having our God with us and for us, we run to the combat with vigour and courage, and fight our way to heaven in spite not only of flesh and blood, but of all the legions of hell. Yes, my soul, put thy whole trust in God, and thou wilt ever be victorious in all thy conflicts; he never forsakes them that put their whole trust in him. Divine hope never confoundeth. ‘'Tis the helmet of salvation' which protects our head against the enemy, by covering it, as it were, with the Divinity itself, whose divine word and honour is engaged to stand by, and defend all such as put their trust in him.

Conclude ever to pray and labour for this divine virtue of hope, the sweet companion of thy pilgrimage and safeguard in all dangers. She will teach thee to keep close to God, and engage him to keep close to thee.

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Admin

Administrator
7th May

2113



Tuesday after the Second Sunday
On joining a distrust in ourselves with onfidence in God


Consider first, that in order to succeed in the spiritual warfare, an entire distrust in ourselves must go hand-in-hand with our confidence in God. For if we build in the least upon our own strength we build upon a sandy bottom, and our house will certainly fall at the first shock of trial or temptation. The wise man builds his house upon a rock, (Matt. vii. 24,) and it is proof against all storms and floods; but the foolish man builds his house upon the sand, without a foundation, and when the rains fall, and the floods rise, and the winds blow, and beat against that house, it presently falls, and great is the fall thereof. He that entirely trusts in God, and not in himself, is a wise man, and builds upon a rock, which can never fail him. But he that puts the least confidence in himself; is a foolish man, because the bottom he builds upon is mere sand, that cannot support the least weight. 'Cursed is the man,’ saith the prophet, (Jerem. xvii. 5,) 'that trusteth in man, and whose heart departeth from the Lord:' which curse falls upon all such as trust in the strength of their own resolutions, or in any power or ability of their own. They perfectly drive away from them the grace of God, by their pride and presumption.

Consider 2ndly, that as God’s honour is engaged to stand by them that put their whole trust in him, and to assist them with his most powerful and effectual graces, so he is in a manner obliged to oppose and resist all such sacrilegious wretches as would rob him of his glory by ascribing any good to themselves, or expecting any good from themselves, or from their own strength. And are not all they guilty of this sacrilegious presumption, who, in their undertakings or resolutions, build upon themselves instead of building upon God or at least divide their confidence between themselves and God, and so would make themselves partners at least in his glory? See, my soul, thou never be guilty of any such extravagance and madness. For what greater madness can there be than for mere weakness and nothing, a miserable sinful nothing, to presume of itself and of its own strength! what greater extravagance than for a man to put himself in the place of God, or to attribute to himself what can only be the work of God! Good God, deliver us from any such extravagant madness!

Consider 3rdly, that one of the principal reasons why many Christians, that otherwise seem to be men of good will, make little or no progress in the way of God, and why numbers of others, after repeated confessions, and as (they imagine) strong purposes of renouncing their sinful habits, still return like dogs to the vomit, by relapsing into the same sins, and too often die in their sins, is because they trust too much to themselves, and to their own resolutions, and are not sufficiently divested of all self-confidence. Alas! this evil is a mortal poison, which is apt to creep in imperceptibly, and to lie lurking in the midst of the soul, and to corrupt its very vitals. It makes it barren, with regard to the bringing forth any true fruit to God, either in itself or in others; and fruitful in nothing but in weeds, that are only fit for the fire. My soul, examine well thyself, and see if this unhappy self-confidence has no share in thy enterprise? Are thy resolutions wholly built upon God’s grace to be sued for and obtained by humble prayer? Art thou practically and sensibly convinced of thy own nothing ness, misery, and sinfulness; and that thou canst not make one step towards God, but inasmuch as he shall help thee! Does no secret opinion of the strength of thy resolutions make thee rashly expose thyself to temptation? O remember thou hast not half that virtue and love of God, which St. Peter had! and yet, alas! a secret confidence in his own resolutions, betrayed him into that grievous crime of denying his Lord.

Conclude to hope for all good from God, to be ever mistrustful of thyself; and therefore, as the Apostle admonishes, to 'work out thy salvation with fear and trembling,’ Philip. ii. 12.

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Admin

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8th May


2118


Wednesday after the Second Sunday
On the Lord's Prayer

Consider first, that divine hope cannot lie idle in the soul, nor suffer her to be idle, but exercises the soul in prayer, as the great means of obtaining all the good she hopes for. Now all the good that we are to hope and pray for is marked out to us by our Lord, and comprised in a very few words, in that excellent prayer which he has taught us, commonly called The Lord’s Prayer. Here, in seven short petitions, we pray for all that we are any ways authorized by the word of God to hope for, for ourselves or for our neighbours, for body or soul, for time or eternity. Here we are taught to make acts of all the most necessary virtues of faith, hope, love of God, conformity to his blessed will, charity for our neighbours, forgiveness of injuries, and repentance for our sins. Here we daily make a spiritual communion by aspiring after the bread of life. O the excellence of this heavenly prayer; so short in words, that the meanest capacity may easily learn it, and so copious in its contents, that they might fill whole volumes! And what a pity that the generality of Christians should run over this admirable prayer with so little sense of what they are saying, and with dispositions so opposite to the import of those sacred petitions!

Consider 2ndly, that in the beginning of this divine prayer we call God our Father; and we are authorized to call him so by the Son of God himself. Stand astonished, my soul, at this high favour: what greater dignity can any creature be raised to, than to be called and to be a child of God? to have him for our Father, who made heaven and earth, and who fills heaven and earth with his infinite majesty? O my soul, see thou never degenerate from this dignity of a child of God, by behaving thyself worthily of such a Father. See thou never more make thyself a slave to sin or Satan: O child of heaven, lie no longer grovelling in the mire of the earth. In this prayer we are taught to address ourselves to our Father, 'who is in heaven,’ to the end, that we may reflect whither we are to direct our thoughts when we pray, and that we may not suffer any attachment to the things of the earth, by love and affection, to hinder them from freely flying up to heaven. My soul, where are thy thoughts in the time of prayer? Do nor irregular affections chain them down to the earth, when they ought to be in heaven?

Consider 3rdly, what encouragement it ought to be to a Christian when he goes to his prayers, to remember that he is presenting his petitions to ‘his Father:' and to such a Father, who has an incomparable love for his children; who encourages them to ask; who teaches them in this excellent prayer what they are to ask for; who has frequently promised to grant them what they ask, provided it be good for them; and whose power, riches, bounty, and mercy, are all equally infinite. O! let this title of 'our Father,’ which we give to God in the Lord’s prayer, raise our hopes in him; let it inflame our hearts with love for so amiable a Father; let it bespeak a reverential awe, a filial fear of offending such a parent, and an earnest desire of being ever a dutiful and obedient child.

Conclude ever to esteem and love this divine prayer; and daily to use it with a serious attention and suitable devotion.

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Admin

Administrator
9th May


2120


Thursday after the Second Sunday
On Hallowed Be Thy Name

Consider first, that the first petition of the Lord’s prayer is contained in these words 'Hallowed be thy name:’ that is, may thy name be ever blessed and praised, honoured and glorified. This petition claims the first place in the Lord’s prayer as its undoubted right; because the first and principal duty of a Christian is to love his God with his whole heart and soul, and therefore the first and principal thing he ought to desire and pray for is the great honour and glory of God. His love for his God makes him rejoice to think that he is, in himself, infinitely happy and glorious, and will be so for all eternity, and that he is, and will be eternally adored, praised, and glorified by all the angels and saints. But, then, it grieves him to think how little this infinite goodness is known in this miserable world; how little this great object of his love is loved here below; how little he is honoured, praised, and glorified by these very souls of ours, made by him, and for him, and which can never be happy but in the love and enjoyment of him. And therefore the intent of this petition is to remedy so great an evil by earnestly begging of the sovereign Good, the source of all grace and good, that he would glorify his own most sacred name in us, by effectually teaching us to love, serve, and glorify him.

Consider 2ndly, that this petition contains an act of divine love, even of perfect charity and benevolence, inasmuch as it expresses the longing desires of the soul for the greater honour, praise, and glory of her Maker, as the only good she can wish, or procure for his infinite majesty. It contains also an act of the most perfect charity for himself; because in praying that God’s name may be glorified in all, and by all, she desires in the first place, that it may be glorified in herself; and by herself: now what greater good can she wish, or procure for herself, than that God may be ever glorified in her, and by her, and that her whole being may be ever consecrated to his glory, for time and eternity? And as the most perfect act of charity for our neighbours, is that by which we labour to procure their greatest good, and the like good as we desire for ourselves; whilst by this petition we dedicate our whole selves to the divine glory, we do as much for our neighbours also, by praying that God’s name may be sanctified in them all, and by them all, both now and for ever. And this love we here exercise both with regard to ourselves and our neighbours, is pure and perfect charity; because God is both the beginning and the end of it; inasmuch as we love both ourselves and our neighbours, with relation to the greater glory of God. This divine charity in all its branches is exercised in this first petition.

Consider 3rdly, that in praying for the hallowing or sanctifying of the name of God, we pray in effect for the sanctification of the whole world; that the knowledge of the true and living God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, may be spread over all the earth that all nations may serve him, all tongues may praise him, and all hearts may love him; in a word, that all men upon earth may be saints, and may be all happily united in publishing the glory of God’s name, not merely by their words, but much more by their lives; for this is the most perfect way of sanctifying the name of God. See then, my soul, the vast extent of this petition, by which we pray for all glory to God; and for all good to man, both for here and hereafter; and let thy heart go along with thy tongue as often as thou repeatest it.

Conclude to let this earnest desire of the greater glory of God in all things be ever the predominant passion of thy heart, and he will glorify thee for all eternity.

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Admin

Administrator
10th May

2122



Friday after the Second Sunday
Thy Kingdom Come

Consider first, that in this second petition we pray for the kingdom of God. Now, we find in holy writ that the kingdom of God is understood in three different ways. First, of the eternal kingdom of God in heaven. 2ndly, of the spiritual kingdom of Christ in his church upon earth. 3rdly, of the mystical kingdom of God in our souls, according to that of our Saviour, (Luke xvii. 21,) ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’ And in this petition, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ we pray for the kingdom of God, according to all these three acceptations of his kingdom. See, my soul, how ample and extensive this petition is, and how noble and sublime those things are which thou art here taught to petition for. Stand astonished that a poor worm of the earth, extracted from nothing, and which is infinitely more humbling, taken up from the dunghill of sin and corruption, should be authorised to aspire after a kingdom, even an eternal kingdom, to live and reign for endless ages, with the living God. Yet this we are here taught to pray for, with an assurance of being heard, if we pray as we ought, by him who has the disposing of this kingdom. And this is one part of the import of this petition, and contains an act of divine hope.

Consider 2ndly, that as the kingdom of God is often taken in the Scriptures to signify that spiritual kingdom which Christ came to establish upon earth, and his reign in his church, in which he is both King and Priest for ever; so, in this petition, we are also to have an eye upon the propagation and exaltation of this kingdom of Christ; by earnestly begging that the reign of Satan and of sin may have an end; that all infidels may be enlightened by the light of the gospel; that all heresies, schisms, and errors may be rooted out; that all vices and scandals may be abolished among Christians, and that divine faith, hope, and charity, with all other virtues, may reign both in all the pastors of God’s church, and in all the people of God. So that here is also exercised an act of perfect love, both with relation to God, by desiring that his kingdom, his grace, and his truth, may be victorious over all the world; and with relation to all mankind, by praying that all men may be subdued to that happy kingdom, and may be true and faithful subjects to this great King.

Consider 3rdly, that, as true charity should begin at home, we are particularly to have in view in this petition the establishment of the kingdom of God in our own souls, by heartily desiring, and earnestly praying that God may come to us, and take full possession of our souls by his grace; that he may set up his throne within us, and reign without control and without rival in our hearts; that he may suppress all rebellions there, subdue all our passions, and make our whole interior his own, by giving us a strong and perfect love for him. O blessed kingdom of divine love! When wilt thou come to me? When wilt thou be established in my soul? When will thy sacred flames consume in me all that is in any ways displeasing to my God, or that dares to rebel against him?

Conclude to make it thy business to seek, in the first place, this kingdom of God, by procuring his justice in thy soul; and, as he has promised, nothing else shall be wanting to thee. God must first be King in thy soul here, if thou ever hope to arrive at his eternal kingdom hereafter.

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