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IX

That we must pray to be delivered out of the horrible pit, out of the mire and clay.

WHAT then now remains but after the due consideration of all these matters to kindle in the mind the desire to inherit so great goods, and with continual supplications to implore Him who created thee to possess them to bring 78thee out of the horrible pit, out of the mire and clay,105105   Ps. xl. 2. and make thee the possessor of blessedness so great? What is that horrible pit, but the abyss of worldly covetousness? what the mire and clay but the filthiness of carnal pleasure? For in the toils of these two, of covetousness and of pleasure, is it that the race of man is miserably entangled and hindered from attaining to the blessed freedom of heavenly contemplation. For in truth the horrible pit is worldly covetousness, which drags the mind that is subject unto its dominion by desires innumerable, as by chains, into the depth of sin, and suffereth it not ever to rest. For the mind of man, when oppressed by the yoke of covetousness, is distracted by the love of things visible and driven hither and hither by divers passions. It is wasted by toil in the getting of money, by carefulness in increasing, by joy in possessing it, by fear of losing it, by grief at the loss of it, and by none of these is suffered to see in how great danger it is. This is the horrible pit, which worldly covetousness ceases not to fill with all these great evils. Out of this pit did blessed David rejoice to be delivered, when he gave thanks and said: He brought me out of the horrible pit, out of the mire and clay.

What is the mire and clay? The enjoyment of unclean pleasure. Cry out boldly then with blessed David, and say to thy Creator, Take me out of the mire, that I sink not.106106   Ps. lxix. 15. Cleanse thy 79heart from all the pollution of fleshly delight, shut out unclean thoughts from thy mind, if thou wilt escape the foulness of this mire. But when by repentance and confession, by weeping for thy sin and occupying thy heart with holy meditations, thou hast escaped thence, take heed that thou fall not into it again; but with all thy heart utter thy sighing before God, beseeching His mercy that He may set thy feet upon the rock,107107   Ps. xl. i. that is, that thy mind may establish itself upon the firm ground of righteousness by constantly cleaving unto Christ, of whom it is said that He is made unto us of God wisdom and righteousness and sanctification.108108   1 Cor. i. 30. Pray moreover that He may order thy goings109109   Ps. xl. 2. that they turn not back unto wickedness, but may go on steadily in the heavenly way of His commandments, and so hasten without any turning aside to the blessed country of the Angels.

But when His direction shall have lifted thee up, be careful that thou be not slack in singing the praises of the Creator; rather do thou beseech Him of His mercy to put a new song in thy mouth,110110   Ps. xl. 3. that with due devotion thou mayest sing a thanksgiving unto our God.111111   Ibid. It is meet that thou, my soul, when thou hast been brought into fellowship with God by newness of life112112   Rom. vi. 4. shouldest break forth into a new song in His praise, despising things temporal, and longing only after things eternal; being obedient to the 80law of God not from fear of punishment but from love of righteousness. For this is to sing a new song to God, to mortify the desires of the old man, and to follow the way of the new man, which the Son of God hath shown to the world, from mere desire of the life everlasting. He singeth a thanksgiving,113113   With reference to the verse of Ps. xl. quoted above in the Latin the words canticum and carmen differ, as do song and thanksgiving, but there is no special reference to thanks in the word carmen. who keepeth in the remembrance of a pure mind the joys of his heavenly country and, being sustained by the consciousness of a holy life and trusting in the gift of grace from above, striveth to attain thereunto.


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