Today's contemplation


12th May

Third Sunday after Easter
Give us this day Our Daily Bread

Consider first, that after seeking in the three first petitions the greater glory of the name of God, the propagation of his kingdom, and the execution of his will both in heaven and in earth, we are taught in the fourth petition to pray for all necessaries for ourselves, both for soul and body, under the name of our ‘daily bread,’ which we here beg for this short day of our mortal life, in order to support us in our pilgrimage through the wilderness of this world, till we come to our true country and to the happy day of everlasting light and life in the heavenly kingdom of our Father. As to the things of this world, we pray for them with more indifference, as for things of lesser consequence; and which, if we seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, our Father has promised to furnish us with, viz., as for as he shall see expedient for us; and we pray for them for to-day, being forbidden to be solicitous for them for to-morrow. But what we are here more earnestly to pray for is the bread which is to support the spiritual life of our souls, viz., the grace of God, the word of God, and the holy sacraments. And this we beg both for ourselves and for all the world from the great pastor of souls.

Consider 2ndly, that the holy fathers expound this petition as meaning in particular the ‘bread of life,’ which we receive in the blessed Eucharist for the food, nourishment, strength, and life of our souls. This bread is the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God, who calls himself the ‘living bread which came down from heaven,’ John vi. 51, and assures us that he 'that eateth of this bread shall live for ever,’ and that 'the bread which he will give is his flesh for the life of the world,’ v. 52. This is here styled 'our daily bread,' because given us for this our day of life, and given to be our daily support, by our partaking of it either really or spiritually every day. O my soul, ever aspire after this heavenly bread, the source of all grace and true life. Admire and adore the incomprehensible ways by which thy God seeks to communicate himself to thee; and see thou correspond with his goodness and love, by turning daily to him and giving thy whole self to him.

Consider 3rdly, that the best way to answer the principal intent of this petition is by making a spiritual communion (as often as we repeat these words, ‘give us this day our daily bread’) by a lively faith and hope in Jesus Christ, the true bread of life; by aspiring after him, by love and desire, and by inviting him to come and take full possession of our souls, and to unite them to himself for time and eternity. Happy those souls that frequently in the day communicate in this manner!

Conclude to pray for thy 'daily bread’ in such a manner as to have ever principally in view this 'bread of life,’ and to labour to partake of it daily at least by a spiritual communion.



13th May


Monday after the Third Sunday
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us

Consider first, that in this fifth petition our Lord has furnished us with a daily remedy for those many evils into which we daily fall. 'We all offend in many things,’ James iii. 2, and not a day passes in which we are not contracting fresh debts to out great master, either by omission or commission, in thought, word, or deed. Therefore we ought daily to sue for a discharge, and to call for mercy and forgiveness, with a truly penitent heart; and this is the design of this petition of the Lord’s Prayer, which when recited with fervour, readily obtains the remission of those daily debts, and reinstates us in the good graces of our master. These lesser faults into which we daily fall, if neglected and suffered to grow and multiply upon us, are of worse consequence to our souls than we can well imagine; the water that comes into the ship by small chinks, if not daily pumped out, may in time increase in such manner as to sink the vessel. That the like may never happen to our souls we must be daily repenting for these daily sins, and offering up daily for them the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart, as often as we repeat this petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

Consider 2ndly, that besides the obligation of daily labouring to procure the discharge of these daily debts, we must see if we have not reason to apprehend a more heavy load of debt lying upon our souls, on account of our past sins; more especially if, in any part of our life, we have lived in mortal sin. Alas! the weight of such debts as these is immense, a sum of ten thousand talents, which we are utterly unable to discharge of ourselves; and whether our repentance has been sufficient to apply to our souls the discharge purchased by the blood of Christ, we cannot tell. And therefore our best security is to be always repenting for our past sins, and to beg daily of God to forgive us all the sins of our youth and our ignorance, to cleanse us from our hidden sins, and to be merciful to us, with regard to the sins we may have any way occasioned in others. And with this penitential spirit, for all our past sins, known or unknown, we ought to recite this petition of the Lord’s Prayer and with it daily present ourselves, like Magdalene, at the feet of our redeemer, imploring his mercy both for ourselves and for all poor sinners.

Consider 3rdly, that in this petition we beg of God to 'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.’ Which words were added by our Lord, to put us in mind, that we must not look for forgiveness from God of the offences we commit against him, if we do not forgive from our hearts the offences which our neighbours commit against us. See, Christians, how much our Lord takes to heart our forgiving one another, and loving our enemies; since, not content with frequently inculcating this duty on all other occasions, he was pleased to insert it in the very prayer he would have us daily to say, to the end we might never forget it. Let us then examine well our dispositions in this regard, and lay aside all rancour and animosity against our neighbours when we go to sue for mercy from God; otherwise we shall never obtain the mercy we ask.

Conclude to take occasion, from this petition of the Lord’s Prayer, to practise daily these three lessons:

  • first, of a hearty repentance for thy daily sins;
  • 2ndly, of daily renewing thy sorrow and contrition for thy past offences; and
  • lastly, of daily exercising charity and mercy, in forgiving from thy heart all that have offended thee.




14th May


Tuesday after the Third Sunday
Lead us not into temptation

Consider first, that after begging of our Lord, in the foregoing petition, the forgiveness of the sins we have already committed, we here beg of him to preserve us from relapsing into any of our former offences, or being ever any more guilty of wilful sin. The true penitent abhors the monster sin beyond all other evils whatsoever; and therefore he is not content with seeking the remission of all his offences, but is ever solicitous to avoid the like evils for the time to come; and therefore he flies the occasions of them, seeks to keep out of all dangerous temptations, and being sensible of his own weakness, he is earnest in prayer to beg of God to stand by him and to help him to overcome all the enemies of his soul, and rather to let him die a thousand deaths than to commit one wilful sin. And this is the principal meaning of this petition, 'Lead us not into temptation,’ which ought to be recited by all Christians, that they may have a great horror of sin, and an earnest desire to be ever preserved from it.

Consider 2ndly, in what sense we here beg of God 'Not to lead us into temptation' since, as St. James says, chap. i. 13, ‘God is not a tempter of evils and he tempteth no man,’ viz., so as to incite, allure, or provoke to sin. No certainly; such temptations as these cannot be from God, who is essentially good, and ever abhors sin; but they are from the world, the flesh, and the devil; yet as these never have power to tempt us, but with God’s permission, nor strength to overcome us, but when we neglect to apply in a proper manner to God for his grace; therefore we make use of this expression to signify our total dependence on God, and to beg that he would not give the enemy any power over us, nor suffer us to give ourselves up to him. Moreover, as those trials which God often sends for the exercise of our virtue, and for the proof of our fidelity, are also in Scripture called temptations, such as afflictions, crosses, pains, &c., of which God is certainly the author and distributor - we beg of him by these words, ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ that with relation to all such trials as these, he would ever have regard to our weakness, and never lay upon us any load above our strength.

Consider 3rdly, with regard to temptations, that they are no sins to us if we give no way to them, nor bring them upon us by our own faults. So far from it, that they are often the occasions of very great good to our souls by obliging us to watch and to pray the more, from the sense of our dangers; by keeping us humble, and by affording us the opportunity of gaining many victories, and consequently as many glorious crowns for all eternity as we have had conflicts with the enemy by occasion of temptations. Wherefore it is not the meaning of this petition to pray that we may never have any temptation, (for this might not be expedient for us,) but that we may never yield to temptation. But as for the seeking or desiring temptations, it would be too great a rashness to weak souls; and more especially with regard to temptations against purity, it would be a crime to affect them, or, without necessity, to expose one’s self to them. Christians, let us learn to arm ourselves for this warfare with the armour of the fear of God and a lively faith; let us stand upon our guard by watching and praying; let us readily and heartily resist the first attacks of the enemy; let us bear with patience and humility the labour and trouble of the conflict, and ever reject with horror the criminal satisfaction proposed by the enemy.

Conclude to observe these rules with regard to temptations to join always an humble distrust in thyself, with a firm confidence in God; and ever to have recourse to him in all thy conflicts by humble and fervent prayer. Do this, and thou shalt always come off with victory.



15th May

Wednesday after the Third Sunday
Deliver us from Evil

Consider first, that this petition is near akin to the two foregoing petitions; inasmuch as the main drift of the former was to deliver us from the evil of our past sins, and the latter to keep us from the evil of sin for the time to come; and in this petition we beg to be delivered from all evil, past, present, or to come. Now, of all these evils sin is not only the greatest, but is, in some sense, the only thing that deserves to be called evil; because all other things that we call evils are either the consequence of sin, or cease to be real evils when not accompanied with sin. So that the main business of this petition is to beg of God that he would deliver us from all sin, past, present, or to come: from all the consequences of sin and the punishments which our sins have deserved; from the slavery of our passions and sinful habits, and from the tyranny and possession of the evil one, who has the dominion over all wilful sinners. Good God, for thy mercy’s sake, and through the precious blood of thy Son, our redeemer, deliver us from all these dreadful evils.

Consider 2ndly, by descending into particulars, all the scenes of numberless evils to which we are liable on account of sin in this miserable world, and from which we here pray to be delivered by the mercy of God - such as public calamities, wars, plagues, famines, earthquakes, tempests, inundations, &c., besides a multitude of private evils to which each particular person is so frequently exposed. Then all spiritual evils, which are much more deplorable, whether public or private - heresies, schisms, persecutions of the church, errors, abuses, oppressions of the poor, sacrileges, scandals, national vices, and the general reign of Satan and sin in the thoughts, words, and actions of the children of this world. And, with regard to the future, the dreadful evil of unprovided death and final impenitence; the dismal sufferings of another world; the judgment and sentence of eternal damnation; and the second death of a miserable eternity. And do not so many and such lamentable evils well deserve that we should continually pray that God in his mercy would deliver us all from having any share in them.

Consider 3rdly, as to thyself in particular, how many and how great evils thou hast reason to apprehend to be either actually upon thee or to threaten thee on every side. Reflect on the multitude of thy past and present sins, infinitely more numerous and more enormous than thou imaginest; the uncertainty, the weakness, and inconstancy of thy repentance; the dreadful debt of punishment due to thy sins, and how little thou hast done towards the discharge of it; the vices and passions thou art daily subject to; the many enemies that daily encompass thee, and are continually laying snares for thy soul; the corruption of thy own heart, the blindness of thy understanding, thy weakness in all that is good, and the violence of thy concupiscence and inclinations to evil. Then see what thou hast to apprehend of evil for the future from the judgments of God ever hanging over the head of impenitent sinners; from the malice and subtlety of thy enemies, ever intent upon thy ruin; and the hold thou givest them by thy passions, and that unhappy self-love which keeps a continual correspondence with them; lastly, from that miserable death, judgment, and hell, which are the portion of all who, by occasion of mortal sin unrepented of; fall into the hands of the living God, - and thou wilt be convinced of the necessity of thy continually crying out to thy holy redeemer: ‘Deliver us from all evil.’ Amen.

Conclude to embrace humble and fervent prayer, as the sovereign means by which thou canst be delivered from all evils, past, present, or to come and as these evils continually threaten thee, so let thy prayer also be in some measure continual.



16th May

Thursday after the Third Sunday
On Morning Prayer

Consider first, that every servant of God ought to begin the day with the worship of God, and to give him his heart, as the wise man says, Eccles. xxxix. 6, and to resort early to the Lord that made him, and pour forth his prayer in the sight of the Most High. The manna of heaven melted away and was lost, if the people of God did not get up before the sun to gather it: 'that it might be known to all men,’ says Solomon, Wisdom xvi. 28, 'that we must prevent the sun to bless God, and worship him at the dawning of the light.’ ‘O God, my God' says the royal prophet, Psal. lxii., 'to thee do I watch at the break of day.’ My soul, see thou never neglect this morning worship of thy God. Let not the devil run away with thy first thoughts, but give them to God, by a pure and perfect offering of thy whole self to his love and service for that day and for all eternity, and whilst thou art rising and dressing thyself, keep thyself in his company and speak to him.

Consider 2ndly, what are the particular acts of virtue and religion that ought to be the ingredients of thy morning prayer, viz.: 1. An act of adoration of the infinite majesty of God, and of homage to him, by bowing down both body and soul to worship him with all thy powers, as thy first beginning and thy last end, and to acknowledge his absolute sovereignty, and thy total dependence on him. 2. An act of thanksgiving for all his benefits in general, and in particular to thee and to all the world; for creation, preservation, redemption, vocation to the true faith, &c., as also for his eternal love, and, in consequence of this love, his bringing thee to the beginning of this new day, in order to bring thee forward to the happy day of eternity. 3. An act of contrition, for all thy past ingratitude, and for all thy sins, with a sincere resolution of renouncing them all for the future. 4. An offering of all thy thoughts, words, and actions of the day, to the honour and glory of God; and of thy whole soul, to be employed in loving and serving him. 5. An humble and fervent supplication, to beg the grace of God and his blessing for thyself and for the whole church, that he would keep all from sin, and teach all effectually to love him and serve him for ever. 6. Conclude always with acts of faith, hope, and charity, and recommend thyself to the prayers and protection of the blessed Virgin, of thy good angel, and of all the angels and glorified saints.

Consider 3rdly, that thou must also remember, in thy morning exercise, to declare war against thy customary failings and sins, but more especially against thy predominant passion, which is the most dangerous of all thy enemies. This is that daily warfare in which all of necessity must be engaged who have a mind to save their souls - we must all fight, and fight continually, against our vices and passions, or they will carry us to hell. Now, this it is that obliges us to renew every morning our good resolutions, yet without trusting at all in ourselves; and to arm and prepare ourselves beforehand for these conflicts, by forecasting the occasions and temptations we are likely to meet with in the day and by concluding upon the measures proper to be taken in order to overcome them, either by flight, or fight, but principally by fervent prayer to our Lord, to help us in the combat, and to grant us the victory.

Conclude to be ever diligent in this morning exercise. A good beginning of the day is a great matter. He will have the whole day to whom thou givest the beginning of it.

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17th May

Psalm 91
The praise of a canticle for David. He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob.
He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.
For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.
He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noonday devil.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.
But thou shalt consider with thy eyes: and shalt see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou, O Lord, art my hope: thou hast made the most High thy refuge.
There shall no evil come to thee: nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling.
For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.
In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
Because he hoped in me I will deliver him: I will protect him because he hath known my name.
He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.
I will fill him with length of days; and I will shew him my salvation.

Friday after the Third Sunday
On Evening Prayer

Consider first, that as God is our first beginning, forasmuch as we are made by him, so is he also our last end, because we are made for him, and, therefore, as we ought to begin the day with him, by morning prayer, so we ought to end the day in his company, by evening prayer. Morning and evening prayer are like the two daily meals of the soul, that ought not upon any account to be omitted, lest the soul should languish and grow sick for want of her daily food; and if upon any occasion we are hindered from taking these meals at their usual times, we ought to observe what we practise with regard to our bodily’ meals, that is, we must proceed to take them afterwards at the first opportunity. Moreover, as we make it our care that our families and such as are under our charge should not want their daily corporal sustenance, so we ought much more to make it our care that their souls may not starve for want of our assembling them to prayer, or seeing that they are regular in this daily exercise.

Consider 2ndly, that one of the principal businesses of the evening exercise is the daily examination of conscience, which may be made in this manner:
1. Place thyself in the presence of God, bow thyself down and adore him, and give him thanks for all he has done that day for thee and for the whole world.
2.Earnestly beg his light and grace, that thou mayest discover all thy sins and be heartily sorry far them.
3. Endeavour to call to mind how thou hast spent the day from morning till night; what care thou hast taken to discharge thyself well both of the common duties of a Christian, and of the particular duties of thy station or calling; and especially how thou hast behaved thyself with regard to thy customary failings and thy predominant passions.
4. Endeavour to be heartily sorry for all the sins of the day, and for all the sins of thy whole life, known or unknown; go in spirit to the feet of Christ, to make an humble confession of them to him, and implore his mercy.
5. Resolve upon a serious and thorough amendment for the future; determine to begin from that very hour a new life, and think upon the means of accomplishing it. O! how happy are those souls that labour in this manner every night to wash away their sins with penitential tears, and that never venture to lie down to rest under the guilt of sin! Unhappy they who, for want of this precaution, expose themselves every night to the evident danger of dying in their sins, and even finding themselves in hell before morning.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to end the day well, we ought every night to endeavour to put ourselves as much as possible in the condition in which we should be glad to be found at the hour of our death. And therefore, besides offering up to God every night the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart, for all the sins of our life, the Christian should also think seriously of his last end, and dispose himself for it by acts of a lively faith, and of an entire confidence in his redeemer; by a perfect oblation and resignation of himself to the holy will of God, and by aspiring to an eternal union with him, and in the meantime hiding himself with great affection in the sacred wounds of Jesus Christ, and there composing himself to rest. See, my soul, thou never forget this practice.

Conclude never to neglect any part of this evening exercise, and to see that it be not neglected by any under thy care. A religious performance of this duty will be a great means to secure to thy soul a happy death.

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18th May


Saturday after the Third Sunday
On Praying always

Consider first, that we are not only to address ourselves to God by prayer, in the morning and in the evening, but we are also called upon, in the word of God, ‘to pray always,’ Luke xviii, i; to 'pray without ceasing,’ 1 Thess. v. 17; and to 'seek the face of the Lord evermore,’ Ps. civ. 4. The soul that truly loves her God, will never bear to stay all the day long, without often thinking of him and speaking to him, seeing he has both his eye and his heart always upon her. Love ever seeks the company and conversation of its beloved; now, it is by the means of prayer that we are introduced into the company and conversation of our great Lover, and we quickly lose both his love and him if we pass whole days in the forgetfulness of him. Besides, other dangers continually threaten us when we do not run under the wings of God, and keep close to him by continual prayer. So that if we love either God or ourselves, we must frequently in the day have recourse to prayer. ‘Tis the very breathing and life of the soul, and, therefore, to think to come it to the morning or evening only, is to expose the soul to the danger of perishing for want of breath.

Consider 2ndly, that the practice of this continual prayer does not require that we should be always upon our knees, nor yet that we should always have a prayer-book in our hands, or be always reciting a form of prayer; nor does it any ways break in upon our other employments, so as to be any hindrance to them - no not even to our common conversation, or recreations; but it only consists in a certain sense and conviction of the presence of God, and frequent conversions of the soul to him. Thus, for example, in the beginning of every action the soul should turn to her God, (who is always near her, and in the very midst of her,) by offering up to his honour and glory what she is going to do, and, at the same time, offering her whole self to him; thus, in the midst of all her actions and conversations, she should frequently tend to him by aspirations or breathings of love, and call him to her assistance by short ejaculatory prayers. This way of proceeding will sanctify all her common performances, and make them all partake both of the nature and of the benefit of prayer.

Consider 3rdly, how diligent the ancient patriarchs were in this exercise of praying always, since the Scriptures say, 'they walked with God, and in his sight:' which implies their ever thinking of him, and having a constant attention to please him. The like was the practice of the fathers of the desert, and of so many other saints, who, even whilst their hands were at work, took care to have their hearts centred in God. Christians, let us imitate these servants of God, and since no time, nor place, nor company, nor occupation can exclude the divine immensity, which fills heaven and earth, nor hinder God from being so near to us, that our very souls are not more present to our bodies which they animate, than God is to the very centre of our souls, let no time, nor place, nor company, nor occupation divert us from often thinking of him, and often speaking to him, in our hearts. No conversation can be so honourable, so profitable, or agreeable as this which we hold in the closet of our souls with our Sovereign God.

Conclude to aim, with all thy power, at this inward conversation with God, in the midst of all thy external occupations. In order to this keep thy mind pure from unprofitable amusements and roving imaginations, and thy heart from all disorderly ties and affections to creatures; and God will fill both thy mind and thy heart, and will effectually teach thee to pray always.




19th May


Fourth Sunday after Easter
On the great commandment of Divine Love

Consider first, those words of the divine law, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This (says the Lord) is the greatest, and the first commandment,’ Matt. xxii. 39. Yes, my soul, it is the greatest of all the commandments of God, and that which he takes most of all to heart, since he has made our souls to his own image and likeness, to this very end that we should love him, and should dedicate our whole being to his divine love, for all the time of our pilgrimage here upon earth, that so we might come to be happily united to him in an eternal band of love in his heavenly kingdom. O the excellent dignity of this divine commandment, which tends directly and immediately to raise our souls above this earth, and above the heaven of heavens, and the whole created universe, and to bring them to the God that made heaven and earth, and to unite them to him by a most perfect love, both for time and eternity.

Consider 2ndly, the incomprehensible goodness of God is manifested to us in this commandment, in his insisting so much upon our loving him, and upon our tending with all our power to a union with him. Is then our love of any consequence to him? Or can we add any thing to his happiness, by loving him? Or will he lose any thing, if we refuse him our love? And what is there in us poor little ants, if compared to his infinite majesty, that he should concern himself whether we love him or not? Would it not be an unspeakable favour to us, that he should even suffer us, considering who he is, and who we are, to aspire so high as to pretend to his love? But that this great God should make it a commandment - and the very first and principal of all his commandments - that we should love him, and love him with our whole heart; that he should insist upon our entering into this league of eternal friendship with him, promising all happiness for eternity upon our compliance, and threatening us with most dreadful and eternal evils if we love him not; ‘tis this that shows forth and sets in so wonderful a light the goodness of our God and his love for us that we should be not only most wretched, insensible, and ungrateful beyond expression, but even in some sense worse than devils, if we should refuse him our love.

Consider 3rdly, the excellence of this commandment of divine love, with regard to the fruits it brings to our souls. Divine love is the queen of virtues. She never comes alone, but brings all other virtues along with her; she gives life to them all; even faith and hope are dead when she is not in their company. She brings with her the remission of all our sins; she makes us the friends and favourites of the Most High; she makes us his children, his spouses, his temples she is the ‘band of all perfection.’ O my soul, how glorious it is, how happy, how delightful, to be thus united to thy God by a strict band of friendship and love! O embrace then, with all thy powers, this great commandment, which, by obliging thee to give thy whole self up to the love of God, brings down thy God with all his treasures to thee.

Conclude to make it henceforward the business of thy life to learn this great lesson of loving God; and as no one but God himself can effectually teach thee so sublime and so divine a science, continually beg of him to introduce thee into his school, which he holds in thy interior, and there to be thy master.

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20th May

Monday after the Fourth Sunday
On loving the Lord our God above all things

Consider first, the import of these words, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,’ and thou shalt find in them innumerable motives to dedicate thyself to divine love. For who is this thou art here commanded to love? THE LORD, that is, the eternal, self-existent, incomprehensible, and infinite Being of beings, who alone properly is, and who is being itself. For all this is implied in that ineffable name, which is here rendered THE LORD. ‘I am, who am,’ saith he, Exod. iii. 14. And 'he who is hath sent me to you’- THE LORD, that is, the creator, and absolute master of the whole universe, of all things visible and in visible; infinitely powerful, infinitely wise, infinitely good, infinitely beautiful: the one true sovereign good, infinite in all perfections, goodness, beauty, perfection, and truth itself, compared with whom all things else are just nothing at all. See, my soul, how many motives thou hast to love this great Lord, who comprises in himself all that is lovely and charming, who is the immense ocean of all good.

Consider 2ndly, the motives of divine love implied in those words, thy God; forasmuch as they signify that this Lord of infinite majesty is also pleased to be thine. Yes, he is thy God, he is thy first beginning and thy last end, he is thy maker, who has made thee for himself; and who many ways daily communicates himself to thee; he is thy father, thy spouse, thy pastor, thy keeper, thy constant benefactor, thy ever faithful friend, thy ancient and most disinterested lover, thy sovereign good, and the source of all thy good, for time and eternity. And whereas thou wast fallen from him and from his love by sin, he has been pleased to give himself to thee, in a manner still more enduring, by sending his own Son to be thy saviour and redeemer. O reflect, my soul, on what the Son of God has done and has suffered for the love of thee. From the first moment of his conception, thou wast always in his heart. His love for thee brought him down from his heavenly throne, to take flesh and blood in the womb of the Virgin; his love for thee made him offer up his flesh and blood upon the altar of the cross, a sacrifice for thy sins; his love for thee made him bequeath this same flesh and blood in an admirable sacrament, to unite thee to himself for eternity. And shall not all this oblige thee to love him, and to love him with thy whole heart?

Consider 3rdly, that this love which we owe to our God, both as infinitely good in himself and as infinitely good to us, must be a love of preference, that is, we must love him above all things whatsoever. For he that loves his worldly honour, his interest, his pleasure, his own will, the gratifying his humours and passions, or the pleasing of any person, how near or dear soever, more than his God, is not worthy of God; but is guilty of high treason against him, and of a kind of idolatry, in preferring the creature before the creator, who is blessed for evermore. And not only he that prefers any creature before God, but he that even offers to put himself, his own life, his dearest affections, or any other thing created, or even the whole creation in balance with his God, so as to love them as much as God, is in like manner unworthy of God, and offers him the greatest outrage imaginable; because the whole universe compared with God is a mere nothing, and therefore cannot, without an intolerable injury, be put in balance with him. Ah what must I then think of myself, when I have so often preferred empty toys, mere vanities, and lying follies before the living God.

Conclude henceforward, at least, to love the Lord thy God above all things, and nothing else with him, but what thou lovest for his sake, and with relation to him. Cry out with St. Michael, Quis ut Deus? Who is like to God? And who but he deserves our heart?



21st May


Tuesday after the Fourth Sunday
On loving God with our whole heart

Consider first, that the first sacrifice which divine love calls for by this great commandment is that of our heart. My son, 'give me thy heart,’ says the wisdom of God, Prov. xxiii. 26. This sacrifice must be of the whole heart, and in the nature of a holocaust, that is, of a sacrifice in which the whole victim is given to God without reserve, being first slain and then laid upon the altar of God, and there consumed with fire; even with that fire which originally came from heaven, Levit. ix. 24, and which was commanded to be kept always burning upon God’s altar. Wherefore, in this mystical sacrifice of love, this heart of ours, in order to be made a holocaust, should also first be slain, that is, should first die to itself; and to all its disorderly affections, by mortification and self-denial, and so be laid on God’s altar, to be wholly dedicated and consecrated to him; and to evaporate, as it were, to him in the flames of divine love, which is the true fire that comes down from heaven to carry us up thither, and which ought always to be kept burning in the mystical temple of God in our souls.

Consider 2ndly, how just, how reasonable, how necessary it is that we should love our God with our whole heart, so as to give no part of it away from him, since it belongs wholly to him by all manner of titles. He made our heart for himself; to be the eternal seat and the living temple of his love, and he has given it a certain longing after him, together with an immense capacity of love, which nothing less than God can fill or satisfy. He has shed his own most precious blood to purchase our heart, to cleanse it for himself; and to fill it with his love. It has been solemnly dedicated, sanctified, and consecrated to him at our baptism. He has sent his divine Spirit to take possession of it, to make it his kingdom, and to establish his throne in it. It must then be a most crying injustice if we offer to alienate any part of our heart from him who claims it all upon so many titles. O Christians! let us give him what is his without reserve; let us divert no part of this small heart of ours away from the immense Lord of heaven and .earth; it would be a sacrilege to attempt it.

Consider 3rdly, that the love of God will not admit a divided heart, he will not suffer a rival in his kingdom, a partner in his throne, or an idol in his temple. Our God is a jealous God, and therefore, if we follow any other lovers, we lose his love and drive him away from us. Alas! my soul, who is this that thou would’st associate with God in thy heart? Is it thy worldly pride, thy carnal affections, thy sensual inclinations? Assure thyself this love cannot endure such company as this. Or is it some favourite creature, which thou art unwilling to dislodge from the place it has occupied in thy heart? Ah! the bed is too narrow, it will not hold two, thou must either part with the creature or the creator. He loves God too little who loves anything else with him, which he does nor love in him for his sake, and with subordination to the love of him.

Conclude to love thy friend in God, and thy enemy for God’s sake, and all such things as thou mayest lawfully love, according to the measure and rule prescribed by divine love; and thus no love of the creature will take off any part of thy heart from the love of the creator - thus thou shalt love him with thy whole heart.



22nd May


Wednesday after the Fourth Sunday
On loving God with our whole soul

Consider first, that we are not only to love God with our whole heart, that is, with our whole affections, but also with our whole soul, that is, by applying and employing all the powers of our soul in his divine love and service, because he made these souls of ours after his own image, and likewise for this very end, that they might be wholly dedicated to his love, and might turn all their powers and faculties towards him, to serve and glorify him for ever. Bring then, my soul, bring all thy powers to thy God, and oblige them all to bow down to this divine law of love, and ardently to embrace its happy service, which will ennoble and perfect them all. O let thy understanding be ever directed by its bright light into the ways of truth! The light of divine love will expel the dark mists raised by thy passions and self-love, which so often overcloud thee and make thee go astray. Let thy memory be ever recollected by divine love. Let all thy words and actions, let all thy desires, be ever guided and actuated by this heavenly charity. O blessed kingdom of divine love, when wilt thou come to me and take full possession of my whole soul?

Consider 2ndly, that as the will is that ruling power of the soul which is the proper seat of love, so it is the will, amongst all the powers of the soul, that ought in a special manner to be dedicated and consecrated to divine love. The will should ever have good for the object of her love, so as not to be able to love or embrace any thing that is not at least under the form or appearance of good. Now God alone is the true and Sovereign Good; and he alone can satisfy the inbred appetite she has for good. In the love of him alone she finds herself happy: all other loves do but impose upon her and deceive her with empty appearances. Therefore, for his sake, and because he is infinitely good in himself as well as for her own sake, and because he is her only true and sovereign good, she ought to give her whole self up to his heavenly love. O how happy is that will that is thus wholly dedicated to the love of God! How happy is that will that is the eternal servant of divine love, and makes a constant sacrifice of her whole liberty and property to the all-wise, all-powerful, and ever-loving will of God.

Consider 3rdly, how the great pattern of divine love, Jesus Christ our saviour, began the work of our redemption by devoting his whole will, without reserve and with all the ardour of his soul, to do and to love the blessed will of his Father. Hear how he expresses himself, Ps. xxxix. 8,9, 'Then, said I: Behold, I come. In the head of the book it is written of me, that I should do thy will; O my God, I have desired it, and thy law, in the midst of my heart.’ This will of his Father was, during his whole life, the continual object of his love, the subject of all his thoughts, the motive of all his words and actions. He loved it so that it was his very food; he laid down his life for the love of it. And didst not thou also, my soul, come into the world to love and to do the will of God? Is not thy will given thee for this end? Hast thou any other business here? Is it not also written of thee in the book of life that thou should’st do the will of God? And canst thou say with thy saviour, 'O my God, it is what I have willed, and my desire, in the midst of my heart!' O take heed lest, if thy will fall from this love of the will of God and of his holy law, thy name be blotted out of the book of life, which in effect is the same as the book of love.

Conclude to dedicate thy whole soul, with all its powers, to the love of God, and especially to make over thy will to him without reserve. This is a devotion the most solid and the most secure; the most agreeable to God and the most advantageous to thyself.



23rd May


Thursday after the Fourth Sunday
On Loving God with our whole mind

Consider first, that our whole mind ought also to be consecrated to divine love, according to the import of that greatest and first commandment of our heavenly Lover. Now, the mind is the seat of thought, and consequently of consideration, meditation, and recollection in God. Wherefore, to love God with our whole mind is to have our thoughts ever turned towards him; to consider him; to meditate daily upon him and his truth, and upon all that relates to him, or helps to bring the soul to him; to walk always in his presence; and to keep ourselves recollected in the remembrance of him. This love of the whole mind was required of all the servants of God even in the old law, and much more in the new, which is the law of love. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,’ &c., said he, Deut. vi. 'and these words which I command thee this day shall be in thy heart and thou shalt tell them to thy children, and thou shalt meditate upon them sitting in thy house and walking on thy journey, sleeping, rising; and thou shalt bind them as a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be and shall move between thy eyes, and thou shalt write them on the doors of thy house.’ See, my soul, how strongly thy God inculcates the perpetual remembrance of him and of his divine law; but more especially of the great commandment of love, which is the fulfilling of the whole law. See how he expects that thy whole mind should be ever full of him.

Consider 2ndly, how reasonable and just it is that we should love our God with our whole mind, by ever remembering and thinking on him. He always remembers us and thinks of us; his eye is always upon us; from all eternity we have ever had a place in his eternal mind, in which he has cherished us with infinite love; and shall we refuse him the place he calls for in our mind, or put him off with any thing less than our whole mind? Alas what worthless things are we! How unworthy that this great God should give us any place in his thoughts, or concern himself at all about us! But, O my soul, let us never be so wretched, so ungrateful, so wicked (since he is pleased to show so much love to us) as to suffer any more every empty toy, every idle roving imagination, every vain amusement to take place of him in our mind, and banish him from our thoughts. We cannot be without thinking of something all the day long; and what can we think of so noble, so desirable, so lovely, so charming, so profitable, so delightful, as our God? What are we then doing, when we let whole days pass in thinking of every thing else but him. Surely this can never be loving him with our whole mind, or indeed loving him at all for where the treasure is that we love, there both our heart and mind will be.

Consider 3rdly, the great advantages of ever keeping God in our mind, by a recollection of thought, and a remembrance of his presence. It is a most powerful restraint to keep us from all sin; ‘tis a perpetual spur to make us run on in the way of virtue; it furnishes us with counsel in our doubts, comfort in our afflictions, encouragement in our labours, defence against all our enemies, and protect ion in all dangers. It enlivens our faith, animates our hope, gives a continual increase to divine charity, and brings us in some measure into heaven, whilst we are here living upon earth, by ever keeping us in the company of God, invested as it were with him on all sides, and employed about him, by contemplation and love. O how true it is that as dissipation of thought and forgetfulness of God is the source of all our evil, so recollection of the mind in God is the source of all good! O, how happy then are those souls that always seek in this manner the face of the Lord, and turn their whole mind to him and to his love.

Conclude to banish from thee all impertinent thoughts and vain amusements, all roving imaginations and useless schemes, which have too often hitherto occupied thy mind, and shut out thy God and then thy beloved will quickly return to thee, and make thy soul his paradise.

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24th May


Friday after the Fouth Sunday
On loving God with our whole Strength

Consider first, that the great precept of divine love claims also our whole strength; ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole strength.' As then, by virtue of the commandment of loving God with our whole mind, we are bound to give him our thoughts; so, by being commanded to love him with whole strength, we are to give him also our words and actions. We ourselves are his, and that by many titles; we were made by him alone, and for him alone; and therefore, as the whole fund is his, so also ought the whole produce; as the tree is his, so ought all the fruit to grow for him; it would be a crying injustice to alienate it from him. Wherefore the love of God is not only to reside in our heart, to reign in all the powers of our soul, and to fill our mind, but ought also to show itself in our conversation, and to regulate all our words and actions, so as to give each one of them its due perfection. And this is loving God with our whole strength.

Consider 2ndly, that the true love of God is like a fire which cannot lie idle: neither does it content itself with affections only - it always proceeds to effects. It works great things when occasion and opportunity serve, and when these are wanting, it will do wonders at least by the perfection it will give even to the least and most ordinary of our actions. This constant aiming at perfection in our daily and ordinary actions is one of the most important lessons of a spiritual life, and is the true practice of loving God with our whole strength. Now, this perfection of our ordinary actions, depends upon the purity and perfection of the intention from which these actions flow. The intention is pure when it aims at God alone; it is perfect when it does all for the love of God, and for the greater glory of God. 'Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all for the glory of God,’ says the apostle, 1 Cor. x. 31. The meanest action in life is ennobled by this intention; it becomes even an act of divine love, and a new step to unite the soul to God. So that the readiest way to come to love God with all our strength is to direct the whole of our actions to him, by the pure and perfect intention of ever doing his holy will, and procuring in all things his greater glory.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to love God with all our strength by the perfection of our ordinary actions, and this purity of intention, which ought both to go before and to accompany all we do or say, we should also labour in the progress of all our actions and conversations to season them as it were, and to sanctify them by the exercise of frequent aspirations of divine love. This may be practised by often turning our souls on every occasion to our beloved, considered as innately present with us, by longing after him; offering our whole selves to him; rejoicing in his glory; begging for the advancement of the kingdom of his love, both in ourselves and in the whole world; and lamenting to see him everywhere so much offended, and his love so much slighted. Nothing contributes more to advance the soul in the love of God than a diligence in this exercise.

Conclude to season all thy actions in this manner with divine love, both by beginning them with a pure intention to promote the glory of God, and by accompanying them with frequent acts of love: thus thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole strength.



25th May


Saturday after the Fourth Sunday
On returning Love for Love

Consider first, that besides the most pressing motive we have to love God by reason of his own infinite beauty and perfection, and the infinite charms that all centre in him, to command our love; besides all those attractions which are found in his infinite mercy, his infinite bounty, his infinite wisdom, his infinite truth, &c., which are all infinitely amiable beyond all that can be expressed or conceived by the heart of man; besides also that all our happiness is found in him, and that his love is our greatest honour, our greatest interest, our greatest pleasure, and that which alone can bring us to our Sovereign Good, even to the possession of God himself; in fine, besides that the whole creation in general, and every creature in particular, calls upon us to love God, and publishes aloud his infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, to engage us to love him - a generous soul finds a most strong and urgent motive to love God in the consideration of the love that he has for us, and has had for us from all eternity, and the innumerable benefits he has bestowed upon us in consequence of his eternal love. And yet, O strange ingratitude and insensibility! the far greatest part of human mortals, notwithstanding all these numberless motives of love, are still cold in the midst of so much fire which surrounds them as it were on all sides; they still refuse a return of love, and still prefer the meanest of these earthly toys, and even mere filth, before their most loving and most lovely God. O ye heavens, be astonished at so much baseness, so much blindness, and so much wickedness!

Consider 2ndly, what kind of love this is that God bears to us. He has loved us first, his love is ancient, his love has no beginning, his love is eternal, his love is continual, his thought and heart is always upon us. His love is most faithful and constant, his love never forsakes them that do not still forsake his love. His love is most generous; it imparts all good to his beloved; it prepares an eternal kingdom for them; it gives them himself for eternity. His love is most pure and disinterested; he desires no other return from his beloved but their love; and this, not for any service it will do to him, (for it can do him none,) but to unite them to himself, and to make them happy. In fine, his love is infinite, both in its origin, which is himself, and its communications, by giving us an eternal and infinite good, which is also himself. O, my soul, stand astonished to see that this great God, this boundless majesty, should have such a love for thee! O give him in return for his love all that thou canst give him, by loving him with all thy power, and he will be thine for ever.

Consider 3rdly, the benefits, as well general as particular, that we have received, and daily do receive, from the infinite goodness of this our eternal Lover. ‘He is the author of all our good;' our very being, our whole soul and body is his gift. He has preserved us, he has nourished and cherished us from the first moment of our conception to this hour; he has watched over us with an incomparable love, he has defended us from a thousand evils. He has given his angels a charge over us. He has sent his own Son from heaven for us, to deliver us from sin and hell, and to procure all mercy, grace, and salvation for us. The whole life of the Son of God upon earth was employed in serving us; he suffered for us the very worst of torments, he shed all his most precious blood for the love of us. He has left with us all manner of helps in order to bring us to himself and to his heavenly kingdom; his word, his church, his sacrifice, his sacraments, his body and blood, his graces, his inspirations, &c. He has even heaped favours upon us, and kept us from death and hell, when we were his enemies by mortal sin; he has waited for us with infinite patience; he has called us back with infinite tenderness; he has received us with open arms when we have returned to him, and has mercifully overlooked all our follies, all our disloyalties, all our ingratitude and repeated treasons against him; besides many instances of his particular providence, which every one of us has met with in some part or other of our life. And shall not all these, and innumerable other benefits and favours, oblige us to love him? O! blessed by all creatures be his goodness for ever.

Conclude to have thy thought and heart always upon him whose love is always heaping favours upon thee, and to make a perpetual return of love to thy eternal Lover.

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26th May


Rogation Sunday
On the devotion of the Time

Consider first, that these days, between this Sunday and the ascension of our Lord, are days of devotion, and are called rogation-days, because they are set aside by the church for solemn prayers and supplications, joined with abstinence and penance, in order to turn away the wrath of God, provoked by our sins; and to remove far from us his scourges of wars, plagues, famines, &c.; to implore his mercy for ourselves, and for all his people; and to beg his blessing upon the fruits of the earth. As the first institution of the devotion of these days was occasioned by a terrible scene of disasters and visible judgments of God upon the people, to which a stop was put by dedicating these three days to prayer and penance; so the success that attended this first essay has encouraged the church to an annual practice of the like devotion ever since. Hence we may learn, with what dispositions of soul we ought to present ourselves before the throne of grace at this time; with what a lively sense of the guilt of our sins, and of the judgments we deserve for them both here and hereafter; with what desire to return to God from our sins, and to offer him the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart for them, and to join, as it were in a body, at this time, with the whole people of God, in suing in a proper manner for his mercy, with most humble supplication and fervent prayers. See, my soul, if these be thy dispositions.

Consider 2ndly, that although we do not every day feel the heavy hand of divine justice by the experience of public calamities, or other visible judgments, yet if we consider the guilt of so many crying sins, not only of particular persons, but even of whole nations, which are continually calling to God for vengeance, we shall find too much reason to apprehend that the sword of God’s justice is even now hanging over our heads and that the worst of his judgments will quickly fall upon Christendom in general, if not averted by prayer and penance. This consideration ought to determine all Christians in general (even the most innocent, if they have any concern for the public danger, or true charity for the souls of their neighbours,) gladly to embrace so happy an opportunity as this of joining with all the children of God in humiliations and prayer, in order to prevent the thunder of heaven from suddenly breaking over our heads, and hurrying away thousands into the bottomless pit. And as for every particular sinner, now is the most favourable time for him to sue for mercy, because at this time the whole church joins in a particular manner in praying for all sinners. And if he should neglect this opportunity, what may he not justly fear from his repeated treasons; from the wrath of God above, ready to fall upon him; from the mouth of hell below, gaping to devour him; from the devil, to whom he has sold himself; and from that monster, mortal sin, (which is even worse than the devil,) which he always carries about with him? O sinners, neglect not these days of salvation, lest they never return to you any more. Now is your time - hereafter there may be no time for you.

Consider 3rdly, she encouragement we have both in the Epistle and the Gospel of the Rogations, to look for mercy and for all good, both for ourselves and for our neighbours, from humble and fervent prayer. In the epistle (St. James v.) we are taught the great efficacy of continual prayer, with an exhortation to pray for one another, in order to salvation and a declaration of what the reward will be of them that contribute to the salvation of others. In the gospel (St. Luke xi.) we are exhorted by Christ our Lord to a holy importunity and perseverance in prayer; and we are taught by the example of a friend, and of a father, to look for good gifts from our heavenly Father by the means of earnest prayer. O what a friend indeed, what a parent have we in him! or who is like to him in bounty and mercy? Let us then be encouraged by these divine oracles, ‘To go with confidence at this time to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.’ Heb. iv. i6.

Conclude to join at this time with the whole church of God in prayer and penance, that thou mayest obtain mercy both for thyself and for thy neighbours. Heaven can never resist a general assault made by the whole people of God by the means of prayer, when joined with a contrite and humble heart.

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27th May

Rogation Monday
On the means of attaining the Love of God.

Consider first, that as the desire of wisdom is the true beginning of wisdom, so the first step to the love of God, (which is true wisdom indeed,) is an earnest desire to love God. ‘Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after this heavenly justice, for they shall be filled,’ Matt. v. This desire makes us pray frequently, seek incessantly, knock earnestly at the gate of divine love. It makes us rise early in quest of the heavenly wisdom; it makes us glad to part with all things else, that we may purchase this precious pearl, that we may acquire this incomparable treasure. He that with this desire aspires after divine love, already begins to possess what he desires; and the more he relishes the sweetness of what he begins to possess, the more he aspires after it. Thus the desire of love begets love, and love begets a stronger desire, which begets a stronger love. So that the great means of learning to love God is, by repeated desires and acts of love to taste and see how sweet God is, and how sweet a thing it is to love.

Consider 2ndly, that divine love will not be found by us, nor come to dwell in our souls, if we take no care to keep our inward house clean and pure for our beloved. ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God,’ Matt. v. So that if we entertain in our interior any irregular company, that is, if our affections are set upon worldly vanities, upon filthy lucre, upon sensual pleasures, upon gratifying our corrupt inclinations, divine love will not come near us; because it cannot endure such unclean company as this is, nor dwell in a soul that is enslaved to worldly desires and disorderly passions. These are to be parted with, or at least brought into order and subjection, if we would learn to love God. This is the meaning of that Gospel lesson of selling all to acquire the precious pearl of the kingdom of God, by his love reigning in our souls. The kingdom of divine love will allow of no rival, no usurper, no rebel in its dominions. The spouse of divine love must belong wholly to her spouse alone, she must be a garden close shut to all others, a ‘fountain sealed up’ for him alone, Cantic. iv. So that another necessary means of attaining divine love is a general mortification of all foreign and irregular affections.

Consider 3rdly, that the sovereign means of acquiring divine love is the daily exercise of mental prayer, which employs all the powers of the soul in waiting upon God. Here the memory represents all the motives we have to love him; here the understanding is taught to know him; here the affections of the will are inflamed by his presence - this then is the true school of love. O my soul, let us daily frequent it, not only by having a regular time fixed for this great exercise of love, but by practising it in some measure at all times, by a spirit of recollection, by a continual sense and remembrance of God’s presence, by frequently calling back the soul to him from all her distractions and evagations, by repeated aspirations and ejaculations of love, &c. This is walking with God indeed, like the ancient saints this is taking God along with us wherever we are going, and whatever we are doing; this is walking in love. O how happy is that life which is thus dedicated to divine love.

Conclude to embrace all the means that may bring thee to this happiness. O begin now from this hour to set out in quest of this fountain of life! Let no opposition of earth or hell discourage thee. Never leave off thy search till thou come to drink of this heavenly water, which will become in thee a fountain springing up to everlasting life.



28th May


Rogation Tuesday
On Acts of Divine Love

Consider first, that the love of God is like a fire: its nature is to be always in motion, and always tending upwards towards its heavenly element; it quickly expires and dies if it lies idle. Wherefore if we would keep it alive, we must nourish it, and blow it up by frequent acts of love; and those not mere verbal acts, by telling God that we love him, whilst our heart perhaps is far from him, but by the real exercise of loving God both in our heart and in our works. We exercise the love of God in our heart, by affection; we exercise the love of God in our works, by effects. We love God with a love of chaste concupiscence, when in heart and work we tend to him as our sovereign good, and aspire after the eternal enjoyment of him. We love him with a love of benevolence, that is of sincere and perfect friendship and charity, when both in heart and work we give our whole selves, with all our thoughts, words, and deeds, and all things else to him, as being infinitely good in himself. It is just we should exercise ourselves in acts of the love of God in both these ways, as in both these ways he is infinitely amiable but more especially that we should tend to love him with the love of benevolence, by giving ourselves and all things to him.

Consider 2ndly, that benevolence is a love by which we wish all manner of good to the person beloved; a love by which we earnestly seek and procure whatever may be for his honour, interest, or pleasure; by which we delight in all his advantages, and are concerned at all his losses, &c. Wherefore, if we would make proper acts of the love of benevolence towards God, we must desire, seek, and procure, as much as lies in us, the greater honour and glory of his name, and the propagation of his kingdom, both in our own hearts and throughout the whole world, and pray that all men may know him, love him, and serve him; we must rejoice at every thing that is agreeable to his holy will, and be concerned at every thing that offends him. This is the proper exercise of the love of benevolence; these are far better acts of divine charity than merely telling God that we love him. My soul, what are thy dispositions? Dost thou sincerely desire and heartily pray that all the world may know, love, and serve thy God; that all his creatures in heaven and earth may give perpetual glory to him; that the reign of sin may be abolished; and that the kingdom of God may take possession of all hearts; that none may resist or rebel against his orders; but that all may embrace and bow down, and adore his divine will? If so, there is no doubt but thou lovest God. Such as these are perfect acts of the love of God.

Consider 3rdly, that the exercise of the love of God, which, above all others, is recommended in holy Scriptures, is the loving of his divine law and the keeping of his commandments. 'This is the charity (that is the love) of God that we keep his commandments,’ 1 John v. 3. ‘He that keepeth his word, in him, in very deed, the charity of God is perfected,’ chap. ii. 5. The beloved disciple continually recommends acts of this kind of divine love, and the Psalms are full of aspirations or breathings of a soul that is in love with the holy law and commandments of God. This devotion to the commandments of God is loving God indeed with a true and effectual love, because it is giving up for his sake what is most dear to us, viz., our own will and liberty, and making a present of it to him; it is giving him what he chiefly calls for at our hands; whatsoever else we give him can never content him. He always prefers the sacrifice of obedience before all other sacrifices, because here we sacrifice to him our own clear will, and immolate it, as it were, to his honour and glory. This kind of love is the safest from illusions, for whosoever loves the commandments of God and his divine will, and makes all that is in him submit thereunto, most certainly loves God, and is in the right way that will bring bins safe to God. No other devotion without this can secure any man.

Conclude to exercise thyself daily in all these ways of loving God, and ever remember that loving God and keeping his commandments go always hand-in-hand, because we cannot love God without loving his will, notified to us by his commandments.



29th May

Rogation Wednesday
On other exercises of the love of God

Consider first, that divine love is also exercised in the penitential way by souls that, like Magdalene, (of whom our Lord pronounced that many sins were forgiven her because she loved much,) go daily to the feet of Christ, in spirit, to wash them with their tears, flowing from a heart full of a sense of the infinite goodness of God, and of a deep regret for having offended that infinite goodness by their sins. This exercise of penitential love, as we see in the case of Magdalene, is most acceptable to out Lord, and most effectual for obtaining the discharge of all our sins; and, if diligently pursued, is capable of advancing even those that have been the greatest sinners to a high degree of virtue and sanctity. And whosoever has forfeited his baptismal innocence by mortal sin, if he would follow the rules of Christian prudence in choosing the safest way in a case where his all is at stake, should endeavour to pursue this exercise of penitential love, and never end it but with his life. Thus did all those great penitents of old who became afterwards such glorious saints. And this kind of exercise of love will become in a manner natural to all such as have a right sense of what God is and what sin is, and of the dreadful evil they have been guilty of in offending, though it were but once in their life, so great and so good a God.

Consider 2ndly, that there are also other ways of mourning in which we may exercise a love of God, most agreeable to him, and beneficial to ourselves. As when we sit down at the foot of the cross, and there contemplating the extreme anguish and distress, the stripes and wounds, the racking pains and torments of our dear Redeemer, with all that complication of sufferings in all kinds which he endured in his passion for the love of us, we excite in our souls suitable affections of an ardent love in the way of compassion for our crucified Lover, and feed this fire with tears, flowing at the sight of his blood; which, as it shows forth in the most sensible manner his tender affection for us, so it most strongly calls for a return of our love, accompanied with a bitter grief to see our beloved treated with so much cruelty and contempt. Upon the same principle of the concern that every true lover has, to see the outrages offered to his beloved, we may also exercise a love most agreeable to our Lord, in mourning for the innumerable sins that are daily committed against him throughout the whole world; to see his infinite goodness slighted, his sacred laws and ordinances trodden under foot, his mercies continually abused, and his most adorable majesty treated with the utmost contempt, by poor blind mortals, made by him, and for him redeemed by the blood of his Son, and loaded with innumerable favours, to engage them to love him and serve him. Oh! how can any true lover of God endure to see these outrages offered to his infinite majesty without having his heart perfectly broken with grief to see his Love thus abused?

Consider 3rdly, that, besides these exercises of the love of benevolence in the penitential and compassionate way, there is another most perfect exercise of love, and which comes the nearest to the love of the blessed in heaven; and that is, in the way of joy and congratulation - as when we rejoice in God and in his boundless perfections; when we are delighted to think that he is what he is, infinitely good, infinitely holy, infinitely happy, infinitely perfect; that he is the sovereign Lord of all, and that nothing can be added to him, because he is every way infinite. O, what a comfort, what a pleasure, what a joy it is to a true lover of God to think that whatsoever may come to himself, or to any other thing in the world, his Love at least, whom he loves without comparison more than himself and all things else, will always be infinitely glorious, infinitely rich, and infinitely happy! O how like is this love to that of the blessed, even to that love that makes them blessed, which is an eternal joy in God and in all the beauties and perfections they contemplate in him - this is their eternal delight.

Conclude to dedicate thyself for time and eternity to this most perfect love of God. Make it thy employment here, and it will be thy eternal reward hereafter. In the mean time, labour also to promote as much as thou canst, upon every occasion, the praise and glory of thy maker, the interests of his kingdom, the fulfilling of all his wills, as well in thyself as in all others; be concerned at every thing that displeases him, put thy heart continually in his hands, give thyself and all things else to him a hundred times in the day. Such acts as these, frequently repeated in the day, will secure to thee the rich treasure of divine love; by such exercises thou wilt effectually choose the better part, which will never be taken from thee.

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30th May


Ascension Day
On the Ascension of Our Lord

Consider first, that our Lord, after having employed forty days upon earth, to comfort and encourage his disciples, to confirm them in the faith of his resurrection, and to instruct them in the mysteries of his kingdom, on the fortieth day taking them out with him to Mount Olivet, lifted up his
hands and gave them his blessing, and so ascended up visibly to heaven before their eyes, till a cloud interposed and took him out of their sight. Bow thyself down, my soul, to receive with joy and gratitude this blessing of thy Saviour ascending now to his Father and to thy Father: follow him in spirit, and contemplate the triumphs and joy of all the heavenly legions that come out to meet him, and attend him to his Father’s throne; see how he brings along with him all the patriarchs, prophets, and spirits of the just, into those regions of eternal bliss, and presents them to his Father as the first fruits of his purchase, which he had made upon earth with his precious blood. See with joy thy human nature, in the person of thy Lord, raised above all the Cherubim and Seraphim, and seated at the right hand of God; and exercise thyself upon this occasion in acts of love, in the way of congratulation and of rejoicing at the exaltation and triumphs of thy Saviour.

Consider 2ndly, that our Lord, by his ascension, has taken possession of the kingdom of heaven, not only for himself but also for us. He purchased this kingdom for us with his own blood, he opened the gates of it by his death, he showed us the way to it by his resurrection; and by his ascension he has given us as it were an earnest of our coming one day there to reign with him. He is our head, we are his members; it is but natural that where the head is there the members should also he; it would be unnatural - it would be keeping them in a state of violence - to keep them separate from their head. What comfort, then, to Christian souls to see their head, by this mystery of his ascension unto heaven, raised to the highest seat in that eternal kingdom, in order to draw them thither after him, and in the mean time preparing a place for them there, that he may in proper time come and 'take them to himself; that where he is they also may be!' - St. John xiv.

Consider 3rdly, what further motives we have for rejoicing in the ascension of our Lord when we reflect that he has entered into heaven in quality of our parent, of our friend, of out advocate and mediator, of our high priest, &c. O what encouragements are here to raise our hopes! We have a tender father in heaven, the true parent of our souls, who has also power in the court of heaven, and takes exceedingly to heart our true interest; we have there, in the person of our redeemer, a most affectionate friend, who loves us with an incomparable love; we have a most faithful mediator and advocate, who ever pleads for us with the powerful eloquence of his sacred wounds, which he continually presents to his Father in our behalf; we have a high priest who, to make atonement for us, has carried into this heavenly sanctuary, not the blood of oxen or of goats, but his own most sacred blood, shed for obtaining for us an everlasting redemption. O see, my soul, upon how many accounts thou oughtest to rejoice on the festival of the ascension of our Lord if thou either lovest him or thyself.

Conclude to consider this festival of the ascension of our Lord as one of the principal solemnities of the year. The church of God considers it as such, and therefore daily commemorates in a particular manner, in the most sacred mysteries, not only the passion and resurrection but also the ascension of our heavenly spouse, as the mystery which put the last seal as it were to the great work of our redemption, and placed this flesh of ours in heaven, even at the right hand of the Father, which, at the fall of our first parents, had been sentenced to return to its original earth.



31st May


Friday after the Ascension
On the lessons we are to learn from the Ascension of Our Lord

Consider first, that as we ought to imitate the resurrection of the Lord by a spiritual resurrection from the death of sin to the life of grace, so we must also imitate the ascension of our Lord by a spiritual ascension into heaven, and by dwelling there in spirit with him; that, as we hope one day to ascend thither after him in effect, we may learn the way by ascending after him every day in affection. Our Lord has told us that where our treasure is there our heart shall also be. Our treasure is that which we love the most and the best of all things; now, if this be Christ, as it ought to be, as he is ascended into heaven, our treasure is in heaven; and therefore our heart should follow its treasure by ascending after him in spirit into heaven, and by fixing there its abode with its be loved. O happy ascension of love, which teaches the soul to find in some measure a heaven upon earth, and interiorly to have always her conversation in heaven, whatever occupation or company she may he exteriorly engaged in upon earth.

Consider 2ndly, that in order to he qualified to ascend after Christ our Lord into heaven, we must first get rid of our vices and criminal passions, for none of these can he admitted into that blessed abode; there is no room for them there. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, can have no place in heaven; all their pursuits are earthly - instead of carrying the soul upwards towards heaven, they press her down towards hell. They are all slaves to Satan; they bind the poor soul fast in chains; they will not suffer her to follow after Christ; they are his mortal enemies. See then, my soul, if none of these have dominion over thee; see if pride, avarice, passion, or lust have not more influence on thee, to keep thee afar off from Christ in this region of sin and death, than the love of God has to draw thee up to heaven after him. O beg of thy Lord, through his triumphant ascension, by which 'ascending on high he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men,’ Eph. iv. 8, that he would break all thy bonds asunder, which keep thee from ascending after him, and by the precious gift of his grace set thee at liberty to fly up wards with the wings of the dove, till thou canst come to repose in him and with him.

Consider 3rdly, that the soul can never be rightly qualified to fly up towards heaven by this spiritual ascension, as long as her wings, that is, her affections, are not disengaged. For as the bird cannot fly if its wings be either entangled or daubed over with bird-lime, so the soul cannot fly if her affections are either entangled in the nets of the world, or defiled with the bird-lime of a misplaced love. So that it is not enough for a soul that desires to ascend to heaven after Christ to be free from downright lust or other scandalous excesses and passions; but she must also be disengaged in her affections from every love of person or thing that ties her down as it were to the earth; that captivates her thoughts with solicitudes and perplexities or otherwise takes off her heart from the love of God. All such love as this disqualifies the soul from flying towards heaven: it keeps her far below, grovelling in the mire. Not let her flatter herself that her affections are innocent, because the object is not of itself criminal; for let the object be what it will, it is a crime to prefer it to God, or to love it so as to forfeit for its sake the love of God.

Conclude to be jealous of thyself; how thou placest thy affections here upon earth, lest thou hinder thy flight towards thy true treasure in heaven: ‘my love is my weight,’ says St. Augustine, ‘that way am I carried, whithersoever I am carried.'