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§ 5. Perseverance.

PERSEVERE, therefore, in thy holy resolutions, even if thou fallest a thousand times a day. Hope steadfastly in the Lord, who ever most graciously grants forgiveness to a man of good will humbly acknowledging his fault. It is assuredly impossible for the humble to be repelled by Him and perish. Oh! if being interiorly illuminated by the light of grace, thou couldst in anywise know and feel how merciful, how gracious, how sweet and good is Jesus; thou wouldst, doubt less, conceive a great and loving confidence in Him, and wouldst feel the utmost exultation. And this joyful confidence would render thee, not idle and negligent, but exceedingly prompt and diligent in well doing. The merciful Jesus often sweetly visits and consoles with His grace one whom He yet knows to be about soon to fall and to commit some sin. Oh! how readily He receives thee, when arising from thy fall, thou returnest to Him with humility and love! Then do the angelic spirits and the other citizens of heaven rejoice with great joy, and embrace thee in most sincere charity; for they also are most benignant and merciful.

When any one labours under an inordinate fear of damnation, and yet strives with all his strength to lead a good life, it is expedient and prudent for him to refrain from dwelling much on the just judgments of 146God: he must believe undoubtingly in the Holy Scriptures, which abound in heavenly consolation. And who is there whose courage will not be revived by those most sweet words of the Prophet: “The Lord is gracious and merciful; patient and plenteous in mercy” (Ps. cxliv. 8)? “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our iniquities from us: as a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear Him” (Ps. ciii. 12, 13).

Let him fear and be terrified at the severity of the judgments of God, who, neglecting God, and spurning his commandments, persists in his iniquity, and will not amend his life. It is no doubt to such a one that the Blessed Paul speaks, when he utters these terrible words: “Despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and patience, and long-suffering? knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God” (Rom. ii. 4, 5). But the same St. Paul amply consoles those who depart from sin, and strive to live according to the Spirit, saying: “There is now therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh” (Rom. viii. 1). A man of goodwill should in no wise look upon God as cruel, whose nature is goodness itself, and whose benignity and clemency he daily experiences.

God is often said in Holy Scripture to be terrible, 147and anger and fury are attributed to Him; but this is meant to signify His spiritual operations and the effects of His justice; for He is unchangeable, and subject to no perturbation; He remains ever tranquil in Himself, and in the same mood.

Hence in the Book of Wisdom it is written: “Thou being master of power, judgest with tranquillity” (Wisdom xii. 18).

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