« AnteriorContinua »
wards us. There is no trial so great to a virtuous mind, as this state of spiritual darkness, this sense of guilt, and longing for mercy and pardon from our offended God. This was the last trial of our blessed Saviour-God withdrew himself from him ; deprived him of the inward support and consolation of his divine presence, and abandoned him on the Cross, in that dreadful situation, to all of his human nature.
Jesus endured the sense of his heavenly Father's displeasure, and his soul was sorrowful and dismayed: and as he has known this state of spiritual suffering, his mercy and pity are ever ready to intercede with God, for all those who are sincerely sorrowful for their sins.
3. There are many voluntary faults, into which we constantly and daily fall, and yet we do not commit them with an intention of offending God. In the commerce of the world, our friends often
reproach us with errors towards them. Of these, indeed, they had not expressly forewarned us; yet we knew our friends well enough, to be sure of their disapprobation of our conduct.
Our state is the same, with respect to the grace
of God in our souls: Our faults are voluntary; because, though we do not commit them with reflection, yet it is with a kind of liberty, against a certain interior émotion of our conscience, which should make us hesitate, and suspend the action, until we have fully examined it. This, however, we seldom do; yet these are the calls for watchfulness, to which good minds should strictly attend : For we seldom see those who have the fear of God before their eyes, become guilty of great or crying sins; but as we improve in the love of God, we look on what we formerly accounted venial trespasses, as inexcusable and sinful errors; and so in fact they become; for the greater our knowledge of our duty, the greater is
the crime of forsaking it. As by the light of the sun we perceive objects, which the obscurity of night concealed from us; so, when the grace of God shines more abundantly upon our souls, we discover a multitude of imperfections, till then unknown; a thousand black and malignant spots in our hearts, of which we had not suspected the existence. But if we really love our duty, this experience, instead of discouraging us, or causing us to neglect it, will incite us the more powerfully to tear down the edifice of pride and self-love in our hearts, and in its place to erect the Temple of God. There is no surer way of judging of our spiritual progress, than this acquaintance with our own turpitude, without being discouraged by it.
4. On all occasions, where we have the slightest suspicion of being wrong, the safe rule is to abstain; or, if the sense of wrong does not arise till after our com
mission of the fault, let us (as soon as our hearts are struck with it) at once, with humility, confess our error, patiently bear the blame of our fellowcreatures, and whatever mortification or shame our self-love inflicts on us, without seeking to extenuate our conduct, by any apology or excuse. And in the sight of God, let us seriously deplore our infirmity, and with earnest supplication entreat from Him pardon, and an increase of those graces of which we have need.
5. The workings of divine grace in our hearts, are ever at war with our sinful passions, and cannot fail (without a miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit) to cause us much inward suffering: But it is not more the will of God, to work miracles every day, by his Holy Spirit, than by affecting the course of nature. It would be as great a miracle of grace, if a person devoted to the world were made to renounce at once its vanities, and ap
pear dead to his interest, and to self-love, as it would be of nature, if a human being who went to bed a child, should rise up the next morning a full-grown man. God does not permit the full operation of his divine grace upon our hearts at once, but he leads us on, by slow degrees, to as much perfection as we are able to attain ; and trials and sufferings are the probationary exercises of our souls, which fit them for immortality.
The true end of religion is contained in that divine command, which God himself gave to Abraham :-" Walk before me, and be thou perfect.” The presence of God with us, calms our minds, gives rest and peace to our spirits, during all the labours, trials, and sorrows of the day, and tranquil sleep to our bodies. When we have found God, we must endeavour to make our hearts a fit dwelling for him, by submitting and sacrificing to him (should he require it) every thing most dear to us in this world ; and by sur