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CHAPTER XXXII..

ON JUDGMENT AND CENSURE OF OTHERS. ON WATCHFULNESS OVER OURSELVES BY DAY AND BY NIGHT.

REJECT unworthy suspicions and rash judgments: learn to think well of all. We are but men; we may 85easily be mistaken. God alone knows the heart. Give not credit lightly or rashly to what is said in blame of others. It is better to think that the words may perhaps be false, than to believe them readily. If the care of others is committed to thee, be watchful; and although thou mayest sometimes fear that some evil lies hid where no evil exists, yet thou must never let thy suspicion fix itself where thou art not certain of the evil. And if an unseasonable suspicion intrudes itself violently into thy mind, consent not to it, but strive against it. He who readily thinks evil of others, is truly miserable, and can seldom be at peace.

With regard to those things which are not manifestly offences against God, and of which thou art not sure, accustom thyself to interpret them in the best sense. If any one has sinned, commiserate him, and with pity excuse him to thyself. Recall to mind how frail is the nature of man, and how prone to fall. Consider that it has come to pass through some slight negligence, or by the vehement impulse of temptation; and say within thyself, If I had been pressed by such circumstances, I should perhaps have fallen into more grievous and enormous sins. Turn the eyes of thy mind on thyself. Consider the sins of thy brother to be, as it were, a little mote, but thy own to be like a huge beam (St. Matth. vii. 3; St. Luke vi. 41), because of thy intolerable ingratitude towards God. With humility, beseech the Most High to forgive both thy own and thy brother’s sins.

We do not say, however, that the sins of thy 86brethren are not to be reproved, and even punished, when justice and the honour of God require it, for to overlook vices unseasonably is not mercy, but cowardice; but it is the want of sincere affection that we condemn. He who has true brotherly love, pities in deed those who are in fault, and excuses them in his own mind: he loves them, and prefers them to himself; but yet he does not rashly allow their sins to go unpunished. That which thou art unable to correct in others, do thou commit to God, lamenting meanwhile before Him.

Thou shalt never despair of the salvation of any one; for those who are now the worst, may soon be changed by the grace of God and become most holy. Learn to bear the defects of others patiently, whether they be defects of mind or of body. We all have the same Father, we are all redeemed by the same Blood, we are all truly said to be one body. Esteem, therefore, both the evil and the good of thy neighbours to be thine own; grieve for the one and rejoice in the other; even if thy neighbours should be thy adversaries.

Never let the pest of envy invade thy mind, with thy consent; for if thou enviest, thou lovest not; and if thou lovest not, thou art not of God (1 St. John iii. 10). When thou seest that others possess what thou hast not, when thou considerest that they have received more and higher gifts of grace than thou hast received, regard them not the less with sincere affection; but for this very reason love them more, and venerate in them the Holy Spirit. Rejoice 87and give thanks to God; for so will their merits become truly thine, and thou wilt be crowned with those of others as if they were thine own. If thou grievest, grieve not that they are good and perfect, but that thou art wicked and imperfect. Desire and strive to be as good and perfect as thou perceivest them to be.

Examine thy conscience frequently (keeping to a certain method), and reprove thyself. Do this chiefly at the end of thy daily actions, before thou givest thyself up to sleep. Think over seriously within thyself in what thou hast offended during that day; and, having asked pardon of God, resolve thenceforward more diligently to avoid sin. Commend thyself to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to His Holy Mother, and to thy Guardian Angel: and having made the sign of the cross, compose thyself modestly in bed; and thus calmly wait for sleep, with some pious thought in thy mind.

In the same way when thou risest, make the sign of the cross with attention, and humbly seek pardon of God for thy sins; and casting aside the confusion of useless dreams, meditate on something serious. Praise thy Creator, give thanks, and offer to Him thy soul and thy body; and pray that He will deign to preserve thee during that clay. Thus, yea, thus do thou order thy life; thus hasten to the joys of eternal bliss.

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