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The great difference between External and Internal Penances.


117. Know that the Mortifications and Penances which some one undertakes of himself, are light (although they may be the most rigorous, which hithero have been done) in comparison to those he takes from another’s hands: because in the first, he himself enters at his own will, which abate the grief, the more voluntary it is, whilst at last he doth but that which he is willing: But in the second, all that is indured, is painful: and the way also painful, in which it is indured, that is to say, by the will of another.

118. This is that which Christ our Lord told St. Peter, (St. John 21. 18.) When thou wast young and a beginner in vertue, thou girdest and mortifiedst thy self; but when thou goest to greater Schools, and shall be a proficient in vertue, an other shall gird and mortifie thee: and then if thou wilt follow me perfectly, altogether denying thy self, thou must leave that cross of thine, and take up mine, that is, be contented that another crucifie thee.

119. There must be no difference made between these and those, between thy Father and thy Son, thy Friend and thy Brother; these must be the first to mortifie thee, or to rise up against thee, whether with reason or without reason, thinking the vertue of thy Soul, cheat, hypocrisie or imprudence, and putting stumbling-blocks in the way of thy holy Exercises. This, and much more will befall thee if thou wilt heartily serve the Lord, and make thy self pure from his hand.

120. Hold it for certain, that however good those Mortification and External Penances be, which thou shalt undertake of thine own self, thou wilt never by those only purchase perfection: for although they tame the Body, yet they purifie not the Soul, nor purge the internal Passions, which do really hinder perfect Contemplation and the Divine Union.

121. ‘Tis very easie to mortifie the Body by means of the Spirit; but not the Sprit by means of the Body. True it is, that in Internal Mortification, and that of the Spirit, it much concerns you, for conquering your Passions and rooting up your own Judgment and self-love, to labour even to death, without any manner of sparing your self, although the Soul be in the highest state: and therefore the principal diligence ought to be in Internal Mortification: because Corporal and External Mortification is not enough, though it be good and holy.

122. Though a man should receive the punishments of all men together, and do the roughest Penances that ever have been done in God’s Church, yet if he do not deny himself and mortifie himself with interiour mortification, he will be far from arriving at perfection.

123. A good proof of this truth is that which befel Saint Henry Suson, to whom after twenty years of rigorous Hair-cloth, Discipline, and Abstinence so great, that even to read ‘em is enough to make ones hair stand on end, God communicated light by means of an Extasie, by which he arrived at the knowledge that he had not yet begun, and it was in such a manner, as that, till the Lord mortified him with temptations and great persecutions, he never could arrive at perfection, (his Life, chap. 23.) Hence thou wilt clearly know the great difference that there is between External and Internal Penances, and Internal and External Mortification.



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