Page images


to subjection your dearest affections. You have Temptato fight against your own desires, so be not pressed tions in down with the weight of your corrupt nature. cloister You have to do with a cunning adversary who will use all means to seduce you; be always upon your guard. While we live we are exposed to temptations; this made a great saint say, 'The life of man is one long temptation': the devil, who never sleeps, walks continually around us in order to surprise us on some unguarded side, and enters into our soul in order to destroy it.

However perfect anyone may be, yet he may fall into temptations, and perhaps into such as may be useful. Nor is it wonderful that man should never be exempt from them, because he always hath in himself their source; scarce are we delivered from one temptation when another attacks


Such is the lot of the posterity of Adam, that they should always have something to suffer, because they have forfeited their primitive happiness. We vainly flatter ourselves that we shall conquer temptations by flying; if we join not patience and humility we shall torment ourselves to no purpose. We shall more certainly compass our end by imploring God's assistance than by using any means of our own.

Be constant, Heloise, and trust in God; then you shall fall into few temptations: when they come stifle them at their birth-let them not take root in your heart. 'Apply remedies to a disease,' said an ancient, at the beginning, for when it hath gained strength medicines are of no avail' temptations have their degrees, they are at first mere thoughts and do not appear danger

Dispraise ous; the imagination receives them without any of the fears; the pleasure grows; we dwell upon it, and world at last we yield to it.

Do you now, Heloise, applaud my design of making you walk in the steps of the saints? Do my words give you any relish for penitence? Have you not remorse for your wanderings, and do you not wish you could, like Magdalen, wash our Saviour's feet with your tears? If you have not yet these ardent aspirations, pray that you may be inspired by them. I shall never cease to

[ocr errors]

recommend you in my prayers and to beseech God to assist you in your design of dying holily. You have quitted the world, and what object was worthy to detain you there? Lift up your eyes always to Him to whom the rest of your days are consecrated. Life upon this earth is misery; the very necessities to which our bodies are subject here are matters of affliction to a saint. 'Lord,' said the royal prophet, deliver me from my necessities.' Many are wretched who do not know they are; and yet they are more wretched who know their misery and yet cannot hate the corruption of the age. What fools are men to engage themselves to earthly things! They will be undeceived one day, and will know too late how much they have been to blame in loving such false good. Truly pious persons are not thus mistaken; they are freed from all sensual pleasures and raise their desires to Heaven.

Begin, Heloise; put your design into action without delay; you have yet time enough to work out your salvation. Love Christ, and despise yourself for His sake; He will possess your heart

and be the sole object of your sighs and tears; The seek for no comfort but in Him. If

[ocr errors]


do not

you are


duties of

free yourself from me, you will fall with me; but a ruler if you leave me and cleave to Him, you will be steadfast and safe. If you force the Lord to forsake you, you will fall into trouble; but if faithful to Him you shall find joy. Magdalen wept, thinking that Jesus had forsaken her, but Martha said, See, the Lord calls you.' Be diligent in your duty, obey faithfully the calls of grace, and Jesus will be with you. Heloise, to some instructions I have to give you : you are at the head of a society, and you know there is a difference between those who lead a private life and those who are charged with the conduct of others: the first need only labour for their own sanctification, and in their round of duties are not obliged to practise all the virtues in such an apparent manner: but those who have the charge of others entrusted to them ought by their example to encourage their followers to do all the good of which they are capable. I beseech you to remember this truth, and so to follow it that

your whole life may be a perfect model of that of a religious recluse.

God heartily desires our salvation, and has made all the means of it easy to us. In the Old Testament He has written in the tables of law what He

requires of us, that we might not be bewildered in seeking after His will. In the New Testament He has written the law of grace to the intent that it might ever be present in our hearts; so, knowing the weakness and incapacity of our nature, He has given us grace to perform His will. And, as if

a saint

The this were not enough, He has raised up at all times, death of in all states of the Church, men who by their exemplary life can excite others to their duty. To effect this He has chosen persons of every age, sex and condition. Strive now to unite in yourself all the virtues of these different examples. Have the purity of virgins, the austerity of anchorites, the zeal of pastors and bishops, and the constancy of martyrs. Be exact in the course of your whole life to fulfil the duties of a holy and enlightened superior, and then death, which is commonly considered as terrible, will appear agreeable to you.

The death of His saints,' says the prophet, 'is precious in the sight of the Lord.' Nor is it difficult to discover why their death should have this advantage over that of sinners. I have remarked three things which might have given the prophet an occasion of speaking thus :-First, their resignation to the will of God; second, the continuation of their good works; and lastly, the triumph they gain over the devil.

A saint who has accustomed himself to submit to the will of God yields to death without reluctance. He waits with joy (says Dr. Gregory) for the Judge who is to reward him; he fears not to quit this miserable mortal life in order to begin an immortal happy one. It is not so with the sinner, says the same Father; he fears, and with reason, he trembles at the approach of the least sickness; death is terrible to him because he dreads the presence of the offended Judge; and having so often abused the means of grace he sees no way to avoid the punishment of his sins.

The saints have also this advantage over sinners, The Cross of that having become familiar with works of piety Christ during their life they exercise them without trouble, and having gained new strength against the devil every time they overcame him, they will find themselves in a condition at the hour of death to obtain that victory on which depends all eternity, and the blessed union of their souls with their Creator.

I hope, Heloise, that after having deplored the irregularities of your past life, you will die the death of the righteous.' Ah, how few there are who make this end! And why? It is because there are so few who love the Cross of Christ. Everyone wishes to be saved, but few will use those means which religion prescribes. Yet can we be saved by nothing but the Cross: why then refuse to bear it? Hath not our Saviour bore it before us, and died for us, to the end that we might also bear it and desire to die also? All the saints have suffered affliction, and our Saviour himself did not pass one hour of His life without some sorrow. Hope not therefore to be exempt from suffering the Cross, Heloise, is always at hand, take care that you do not receive it with regret, for by so doing you will make it more heavy and you will be oppressed by it to no profit. On the contrary, if you bear it with willing courage, all your sufferings will create in you a holy confidence whereby you will find comfort in God. Hear our Saviour who says, 'My child, renounce yourself, take up your Cross and follow Me.' Oh, Heloise, do you doubt? Is not your soul ravished at so saving a command? Are you insensible to

« EelmineJätka »