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§ 5. Compassion.

As them dost to the afflicted, so also to sinners, do thou show pious compassion and commiseration. Lament over the ignorance and blindness of men. Recall to mind how great is the weakness and corruption of man who is tempted, and how great the malignity and pertinacity of the devil who tempts him. Extenuate the faults of others, and excuse them as far as thou canst; but accuse thyself severely of whatever thou doest amiss.

Think not on any account that the salvation of thy neighbour concerns thee not; for thou (even if thou art not in any way set over him) art bound willingly and sedulously to promote it. Offer, therefore, prayers to God for sinners, and strive to be of use to all; thus wilt thou merit signal favour in the sight of God.

Out of zeal for justice, and the honour of God, thou must also reprove thy brother, as may be fitting. Never consent to the sins of others, nor flatter any one. If thou art angry in correcting or punishing a sinner, be angry without bitterness, without hatred. Make war upon sin in man, so that thou hate not the man whom God made, on account of the sin which the man committed. Hold sin, but not nature, in abhorrence. For, if thou hatest man, thou art lost, because thou livest out of charity; and thou canst not obtain salvation, unless, laying aside hatred, thou dost return to holy love. For, as the Apostle St. John saith: “He that loveth not, abideth in death” (1 St. John iii. 14). Such a one abideth indeed in 126death, since love is the life of the soul, and God is love. As thou wouldst have God benignant and merciful towards thee, so be thou benignant and merciful to others,

If thou wilt diligently consider how thou didst lately or how thou dost still abound in faults and defects both of mind and body, and how far thou art from the purity, holiness, and fidelity which thou owest to God; thou wilt surely bear with equanimity the burdens and imperfection of others, as discretion and justice may dictate. Confess that it is thy fault, on account of thy wicked and negligent life, that others make little spiritual progress, and often offend God.

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