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CHAPTER XXXIII.

IN ORDER TO ERADICATE OUR DEFECTS WE MUST HAVE A FIRM AND COURAGEOUS WILL, AND CONFIDENCE IN GOD.

THOU wilt say, perhaps: And what hope is there for me, who am liable to various passions, who cannot attain to perfection, who can hardly endure even the least austerity, or the lightest labour? If, indeed, thou canst not lead a sublime life, nor bear hardships, canst thou not be of good will, and love God and thy neighbour? What is easier or more sweet than to love? What, on the other hand, more hard and bitter than to hate? What is pleasanter, what easier, than to lead a good life? What, again, more joyless and laborious than to abandon God, and be a slave to vice? It is certainly true that we may purchase heaven at less cost than hell. If thou lovest God, and hast good will, thou art of the number of the sons of God. And, if thou art a son, however little thou mayest be, thou wilt also be an heir. What then? Will God admit to His kingdom only those children who are great in His sight, and exclude those who are little? By no means: but all who are His, that is, all who pass hence bearing the mark of charity, although they may not be perfect in charity, will be saved, and at length obtain the joys of heaven (Rom. viii. 14; Galat. in. 26). For the Scripture saith: “To everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall abound” (St. Luke xix. 26); that is, to any one possessed of charity, possessed 89of merit, will a reward be given. It saith not, it will be given to him who has much, but not to him who has little; but it saith, “To every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound.” He will surely abound, for he will have as much as will satisfy him, indeed whatsoever he desires.

Good will is so great a treasure, that the whole world cannot be compared to it in value. For, when thou dost wish and desire to do any good work, but art not able, that holy desire is received by God as if it were the work itself. But, if thou canst work, and workest not, then thou hast not the will to work. “Peace to men of good will” (St. Luke ii. 14).

Be not, therefore, cast down because thou art as yet weak and imperfect; but humble thyself before God, and rejoice in the complete sanctity of those who are perfect. God may grant thee to make further progress. He sometimes bestows greater gifts than man even dares to ask.

Be not afraid; if He sees that it will contribute to thy salvation and to His honour, He will enable thee in time to disperse with the lightest breath that rust of vice, which, in the beginning of a better life, thou couldst hardly scrape off, so to speak, with an iron file. But, if it is His will that thou shouldst undergo a fierce combat before thou canst perfectly subdue thy vices and unruly passions; if, I say, He should permit these domestic enemies to molest thee even to the very end of thy life, be not dismayed: but, full of faith, bear patiently the weight of His hand, and joyfully embrace His will.

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Although he who is naturally prone to sadness, indignation, anger, and similar passions, will find the strife harder than one whose mind is naturally joyful and tranquil; yet, if he strenuously resist these tumults, and endure them with equanimity for God’s sake, he will be effectually cleansed from sin, and prepare for himself a more glorious crown in heaven. For the allurements of the flesh and the assaults of vices, when we sedulously resist their attacks, diminish not our virtue, but adorn it, and increase our merit. It is easy for him to keep his mind placid, who rarely endures internal tumults. It is easy for him to be cheerful who is seldom molested by interior darkness. It is easy for him to be sober who is rarely tempted by gluttony. It is easy for him to be pure whose mind is seldom afflicted by the stings of concupiscence and the obscene images of the night.

Do thou endeavour to bind and repress those vicious passions and inclinations. Do all that is in thy power peacefully. Seek, ask, knock; (St. Matt. vii. 7; St. Luke xi. 9), knowing that thy labours and thy desires are pleasing to thy all-merciful Creator. For He is often more pleased with the diligence of thy endeavours to attain virtue, than with the sweetness of the virtue itself. The deep and humble conviction of our own imperfection is more precious in His sight, than the performance of miracles, or any other great work.

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