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§ 2. The Value of a Good Will.

Thou must on no account lose confidence, because thou art imperfect; for God cannot reject a man of good will. He intimately knows thy weakness, and mercifully consoles thee in the Gospel, where the holy Angels are related to have sung at the Birth of Christ those words most ardently longed for: “Peace to men of good will” (St. Luke, ii. 14). They said not, Peace to men of great or of perfect holiness, (although if they had said this, they would have said what is most true); but in order that the weak and the little ones who are of good will might receive consolation, they joyfully said, “Peace to men of good will.”

If thou dost reasonably what is in thy power, and truly desirest to please God, He will, doubtless, at length exceedingly reward thy endeavours, thy labours and desires, and thy good will, even though there be much inequality in thy pious works, exercises and prayers, and many defects be mingled with them. For so long as thou withdrawest not thy will from God, and often grievest for thy imperfections and thy multiplied offences, God. in His unspeakable goodness, accounts thy works worthy of an eternal reward. So long, I say, as thou retainest a good will, and, carefully abstaining 151from sin, devotest thyself to humility and the other true virtues, thou wilt be pleasing to God, and thou mayest dwell with joy in thy good conscience as in a delightful paradise.

Assuredly, all good things depend upon the will; and when thou earnestly desirest with thy whole heart, and doest all that lies in thy power to possess humility, charity, or any other virtues, without doubt thou possessest them in the sight of God. In like manner, when thou desirest from thy heart to do any good work, but art not able, God receives thy good will for the deed. And God accounts thy desire to be as great as thou with thy whole heart wishest it to be. It is, therefore, exceedingly profitable to pray thus: “Would that I might, O my Lord, for the honour of Thy name, have as much love and affection for Thee as any creature ever had! O most gracious Jesus, I earnestly beseech Thee, that I may at all times rise to Thee with my whole will and eager desire, according to Thy good pleasure. I seek and desire with my whole heart to please Thee perfectly in all virtue and holiness, by Thy merciful will.”

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