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CHAPTER XIV.

The discourse of the Elder showing how the plan of action may be changed without fault provided that one keeps to the carrying out of a good intention.

JOSEPH: As we premised, the intent of the mind brings a man either reward or condemnation, according to this passage: "Their thoughts between themselves accusing or also defending one another, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men;" and this too: "But I am coming to gather together their works and thoughts together with all nations and tongues."938938    Rom. 2:15, 16; Is. 66:18. Wherefore it was, as I see, from a desire for perfection that you bound yourselves with the chain of these oaths, as you then thought that by this plan it could be gained, while now that a riper judgment has supervened, you see that you cannot by this means scale its heights. And so any departure from that arrangement, which may seem to have happened, will be no hindrance, if only no change in that first purpose follows. For a change of instrument does not imply a desertion of the work, nor does the choice of a shorter and more direct road argue laziness on the path of the traveller. And so in this matter an improvement in a short-sighted arrangement is not to be reckoned a breach of a spiritual promise. For whatever is done out of the love of God and desire for goodness, which has "promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come,"939939    1 Tim. 4:8. even though it may appear to commence with a hard and adverse beginning, is most worthy, not only of no blame, but actually of praise. And therefore the breaking of a careless promise will be no hindrance, if in every case the end, i.e., the proposed aim at goodness, be maintained. For we do all for this reason, that we may be able to show to God a clean heart, and if the attainment of this is considered to be easier in this country the alteration of the agreement extracted from you will be no hindrance to you, if only the perfection of that purity for the sake of which your promise was originally made, be the sooner secured according to the Lord's will.


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