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CHAPTER III.

HOW EASY IT IS FOR THE FAITHFUL SOUL TO BLOT OUT SINS, ESPECIALLY VENIAL ONES.

IF thy soul is grievously sick, if thou labourest under the malady of pride, vainglory, anger, envy, gluttony, avarice, or any other still more dangerous vice, cast not away on that account the hope of salvation; but 7approach with confidence to the heavenly Physician, draw near to Jesus, beseech Him that He will deign to stretch forth His hand to thee, He is most merciful. He is most pitiful: He does not reject nor repel the sick, He abhors not their companionship, but compassionates them beyond what words can say. He is ever ready to heal thee, if thou dost lay open thy sickness, if thou from thy heart desirest to be healed, it thou humblest thyself, and trustest in Him.

Be not, however, downcast on account of the daily sins which thou unwillingly committest. For as we offend in many things at least slightly every day: so we have at hand daily expiations, by which sins of this sort are effaced. There is holy confession, there are groans, there are tears, there is spiritual reading of the word of God, there is almsgiving, there is hospitality, there is the Prayer in which we say to our Lord, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us” (St. Matt. vi. 12); there are other prayers, and other works of piety, mercy, and charity. Therefore acknowledge thy fault, weep, sigh, renew thy holy purpose; labour peacefully for this end, that thou mayest avoid those same offences; committing the rest to God and casting thyself upon Him. For He, in the counsels of His inscrutable wisdom, often permits the stains of these negligences to adhere to us, that we may be ever more humbled; that utterly distrusting ourselves, we may hope in Him: and that manfully resisting these vices, we may be practised in virtue and at length gloriously crowned.

8

It is one thing to fall into venial sins through unlooked-for occasions or human frailty; and another to fall through wilful negligence. For he falls from weakness alone who when he is free in his own mind hates sin and avoids the. occasions of it; end yet when occasions offer themselves, readily offends by an unbridled tongue, or too great liberty of the senses, or any similar transgression; but who, as soon as he has returned to himself, grieves and turns away from the least stain of sin, quickly seeking for pardon. On the other hand, he who sins from wilful negligence, when in the absence of occasions he might be free, strange to say, desires these occasions and gives way to them, not indeed for the sake of the sin but for the sake of the pleasure. He too, may perhaps fall from frailty, but not from frailty only; however, if immediately after having yielded, he truly repents with renewed resolution, he also may speedily obtain remission of his sin.

Many are also permitted by God to fall grievously, that taught by their own misfortune, they may be come better. Yet no one rises again after a fall better than he would have been if he had not sinned, and if without falling had done all the good that he has done since his fall.

Thou must know, however, that thou wilt be more effectually cleansed from these lighter faults, if, acknowledging thy sin, thou turnest humbly and lovingly to God, than if thou shouldst dwell upon them within thyself, and occupy thyself long and timidly with the consideration of them. Be they 9grievous or be they slight, remain unshaken in thy holy trust in God, casting them into the abyss of His mercies, that there they may utterly perish and be consumed. “There is now, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh” (Rom. viii. 1), but rather “being justified by His blood, shall they be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. v. 9).

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