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CHAPTER XXXVII.

CHRIST IS THE SURE HOPE OF OUR SALVATION.

THOU must place thy chief hope of salvation not so much in the merits of the good works which thou mayest have done, as in the merits and mercies of Jesus Christ. If, however, the enemy should importunately urge thee either to distrust or to despair, thou mayest bring forward against him those things which the grace of God accomplished in thee; but above all, the Passion of our Lord, and the Death of our common Redeemer. Confess thyself to be sinful and miserable, whatever progress thou mayest seem to have made in perfection. For where thou perceivest in thyself no stain, or at most one only, God perhaps may see six hundred, or many more. Thou canst not of thyself obtain salvation; but with God all things are possible.

If thou art of good will, if thou dost earnestly desire to love God; thou art rich in this, although poor and naked in thyself. For thou mayest assume to thyself those things which He did and suffered for thee. For thee made man, He came forth from the womb of the Virgin undefiled; for thee He laboured, for thee He fasted, for thee He watched and prayed; for thee He endured persecutions, injuries, insults, mockery, scourging, pains, and grief; for thee He shed His Blood, and laid down His life; for thee He rose again, and ascended into heaven. Now, if thou comparest thy sins, yea those of all the world, to 99these exceeding merits of thy God, of what account are they? For what is a grain of sand, compared with a mountain that fills all heaven and earth?

This is said, not that thou mayest be proud in thy confidence, but lest in thy humility thou shouldst be mistrustful.

Not they alone will come to God, who have long led a holy life, or practised great austerities; but all who manifest “a contrite and humble heart” (Ps. l. 19) are looked upon and received by Him with clemency, however short may be the time of their leading a good life. How brief was the repentance of the thief hanging upon the cross, and how quickly did he obtain eternal life! (St. Luke xxiii. 40, 43.)

But this being granted; it may not happen to all who repent at the last hour to obtain that which he obtained (for all have not the same compunction that he had); yet it is a great thing, to have even begun hero an amendment of life. For he will by no means perish who had begun during this pilgrimage to amend his life, but being cut off by death was not able to complete the amendment; for in him there remained the foundation of the love of God. And although he must undergo purgation before he can enter into the joys of eternal blessedness; yet will he not be destitute meanwhile of the consolation of a sure and certain hope.

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