Consider first, that by this commandment God forbids all manner of wrong to our neighbour, in his goods, rights, or worldly possessions; whether by open violence or by fraud; by stealing or by overreaching; by cheating in buying or in selling, or in any other bargain; by keeping from him what is his, or not giving him his dues, or not paying just debts; or by any extortion whatsoever, or any usury in the loan of money, or other things; or by putting him to any unjust charges; or by spoiling or damaging what belongs to him. In all these cases there is an injustice committed, which is not only condemned in this divine precept, but by the natural and eternal law, written from the beginning in the heart of man, and by that great principle of morality which forbids us to do to any other what we would not have done to us. And yet how many ways are poor mortals daily guilty of breaking through this divine and eternal law, for the sake of this wretched mammon of worldly interest, the great god of this world; and that in spite both of law and gospel, honour and honesty, conscience and religion. And how often do they affect to deceive themselves herein with vain pleas and pretexts, intended on purpose to cloak their
guilt, and to hide it, if possible, not only from others, but also from their own consciences; that so they may go on without disturbance in the way that leads to death, by persuading themselves that all is right. But God is not to be deceived, who has declared that 'the unjust shall never possess his kingdom,' 1 Cor. vi.9. O! examine yourselves, Christians, impartially upon this head of justice in your dealing with your neighbours; for there is nothing more easy than for you to deceive yourselves herein; the consequences of which would be most dreadful to your souls.
Consider 2ndly, that every breach of this commandment, by any one of these ways of wronging one's neighbour, is always followed by the strict obligation of making restitution or reparation the crime will never be forgiven. And how few think of this! Alas! how many of these restitutions will be yet to be made when time shall be no more, and when that which has been neglected on earth shall be exacted in hell. Ah! sinners, what a load then have you charged upon your own shoulders by your injustices! And how is it possible you should think so little of discharging it! O do not be too easy in persuading yourselves you have it not in your power to make this restitution; you cannot deceive the all-seeing eye of him who clearly discerns how much you might do, if you would but retrench all superfluities in your expenses, would truly take to heart this necessary duty of satisfying justice in the first place, and would use all possible industry and labour for that end.
Consider 3rdly, that though all injustice in general be hateful in the sight of God, there are some branches of it in particular which more loudly cry to heaven for vengeance; and more especially such as tend to oppress the poor by usury or extortion, or by making a handle of their necessity, to raise to them the price of the things they want, or by defrauding them of their wages or hire; or otherwise taking or keeping from them that which belongs to them. O how heinous are all these sins in the eyes of him who is the Father of the poor! They are like murder in his sight. There is a curse entailed upon all such substance as is gathered together by oppressing his children. And so there is upon all sacrilegious rapines, by which the church or temple of God, or his ministers, are defrauded of what is their due; or by which pious foundations or donations are diverted from the purposes of religion to profane uses. In all such cases God looks upon the wrong as done to himself, and will certainly revenge it both here and hereafter. All that gold which is brought into the coffers by robbing either the poor or the church, shall not only moulder away itself, but shall consume all the rest it shall find there, together with the master of it.
Conclude to beware of all manner of injustice, and to keep off at the greatest distance possible from it, as a mortal enemy, both to thy temporal and eternal welfare. Take heed lest the love of that idol mammon should at any time impose upon thee in this regard - thou are never secure from danger, as long as that idol is not cast out of thy heart. For as the wise man assures us, Ecclus. x. 10. 'there is not a more wicked thing than to love money, for such a one setteth even his own soul to sale.'
Consider first, that this day is set aside by the church to glorify God, and to give him thanks, through Jesus Christ his Son, for that inestimable benefit of his divine goodness, by which he has appointed his heavenly spirits to attend on us and to guard us during this pilgrimage of our mortality, till they bring us home to himself and to a happy eternity. Give ear to the word of God himself on this subject, Ps. xc., 'There shall no evil come to thee: nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling. For he hath given his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways: in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.' St. Matt. xviii., 'Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.' Heb. i., 'Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation.' Ex. xxiii., 'Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into that place that I have prepared. Take notice of him and hear his voice,' &c. Yes, Christians, let us attend to these our heavenly guardians, who are ever inviting us to the love and service of our God, and inspiring us with pious thoughts to this effect; and with their assistance we shall defeat all our enemies, and make our way safely to our eternal country, in spite of all the opposition of hell, according to that of Exod. xxiii. 22, 'If thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thine enemies, and i will afflict them that afflict thee; and the angel shall go before thee, and shall bring thee into the promised land, the figure of the heavenly Chanaan.'
Consider 2ndly, with St. Bernard, (writing on those words, 'he hath given his angels charge over thee,') the wonders of God's bounty and love for us, expressed in this commission given to his angels. 'For who is it that has given this charge? To whom? Of whom? And what is the charge he has given? O let us think well of this grand commission, let us lay it up diligently in our memory. Who has given this charge? Whose angels are they? Whose will do they obey? He has given his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways, and to bear thee up in their hands. 'Tis then the sovereign majesty has given a charge to angels, yea, to his own angels he has given a charge; to these sublime spirits, so happy, so nearly adhering to himself, and to his own domestics he has given a charge of thee. And who art thou? What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou makest any account of him? As if man were not rottenness, and the son of man a worm. And what is this commission he has given his angels concerning thee? Even to be thy guardians. O wonderful condescension! O truly great affection of charity!'
Consider 3rdly, with the same saint, 'what reverence, what devotion, what confidence, this saying that God has given his angels a charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways, ought to inspire thee with - a reverence for their presence, a devotion for their benevolence, a confidence for their guardianship. Walk cautiously, as having the angels always in thy company; who according to their commission are with thee in all thy ways. In every place, in every corner, have respect to thy angel. Never dare do that in his presence which thou wouldst not dare to do before me. In God then, my brethren, let us affectionately love his angels, that are to be one day joint-heirs with us, but in the mean time are appointed by our Father, and set over us as tutors and governors. What have we to fear under such guardians as these; they can neither be overcome nor deceived who keep us in all our ways; much less can they deceive us. They are faithful, they are wise, they are powerful; what are we afraid of? Let us Only follow them, let us keep close to them, and we shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.'
Conclude to follow in practice these prescriptions of this great saint; and as he adds in the same discourse, when at any time we perceive a temptation arising, or we are threatened with any grievous tribulation, let us call upon these our heavenly keepers, our guides, our helpers, in due time in distress; and we shall experience a powerful assistance from them, superior to all the powers of earth and hell.
Consider first, that by this commandment is not only forbidden all false testimony given in open court, or before a magistrate, against any one, which is usually accompanied with another greater
crime, viz., that of perjury or false swearing, if not with that of robbery or murder also, when false witness is the occasion of the loss of any one's goods or life - but also all manner of private slanders and lies, and all other ways of injuring one's neighbour by words, either in his character and good name, by backbiting and detraction, or in his honour, by reproaches and affronts, or by taking away the peace of his mind by scoffs and derision, or by robbing him of his friends, by whispering and tale-bearing, or by promoting misunderstanding and quarrels between him and his neighbours: an evil so odious in the sight of God, that the wise man assures us, Prov. vi. 16, that his soul detest it. All these crimes are condemned by this commandment, and by the eternal and natural law written in the heart of man - all of them are directly opposite both to charity and to justice, and to the great rule of life, not to do by others what we would not have them to do by us. They all bring with them a strict obligation, even under pain of damnation, (if the injuries have been considerable,) of making restitution or satisfaction, and yet how seldom is this put in practice? Ah, how common are these injustices of the tongue, and how dreadful are the consequences of them both in time and eternity!
Consider 2ndly, more in particular the heinousness of the sin of detraction, which is so common in the world, and which makes up so great a part of this conversation of worldlings. And yet at every blow, says St. Francis de Sales, it gives three mortal wounds, first to the soul of the detractor, then to the reputation of the person detracted and thirdly, to the consciences of the hearers, by drawing as many of them into sin as are delighted with hearing the detraction, and much more if they encourage it, and contribute to propagate it, by publishing it to others. The detractor himself is like a thief or a robber who takes away his neighbour's character or good name; yes, he is so much worse than a thief or a robber, as a person's character or good name is more valuable to him than his worldly substance, which he is in danger of losing, when he loses his character. Now, in matters of theft or robbery, 'tis commonly said the receiver is as bad as the thief, so in matters of detraction, he that hears the detractor, whilst he is robbing his neighbour of his reputation, is like the receiver, and partakes in the guilt of the robbery. And are Christians aware of this? Do they examine their conscience upon this head? And yet their souls are here at stake. O how few detractors or tale-bearers would there be if men were once made sensible that their unjust and uncharitable discourses were disagreeable to their hearers!
Consider 3rdly, that the sin of detraction may be committed, and consequently the obligation of repairing one's neighbour's good name may be incurred, not only by publishing downright slanders and lies against his reputation, but also by charging him upon hearsay, or upon one's own suspicious or rash judgments with things, if not false, at least doubtful and uncertain, or by magnifying the guilt, and imputing to malice what might be no more than frailty or surprise, or by censuring his intentions in his good works, or even by publishing, without necessity, his real crimes or defects in such circumstances, when his character is hereby grievously hurt. Because in all these cases, one does not only sin against charity, which obliges us to love our neighbours as ourselves, but also against justice, by violating the right our neighbour has, that his good name should be preserved as long as he has not forfeited it by any public crime. O Christians, do but guide yourselves by that golden rule of doing as you would be done by, and you will avoid these sins which send so many souls to hell.
Conclude to examine yourselves well upon the subject of the sins against this commandment, that you may not be imposed upon by the too common practice of those who live and die, with little or no remorse, under the guilt of the daily breach of this divine law. O remember that custom and example will be no excuse for you, if you walk along with the crowd in the broad road that leads to destruction.
Consider first, that this commandment is also violated by the sin of rash judgment, which robs one's neighbour of his esteem and reputation; if not with regard to others, by publishing the suspicions we have conceived of him, or the judgment we make to his disadvantage, at least within our own breast, by despising and condemning him there. O how much is this crime (when voluntary and deliberate) condemned by the word of God! O how contrary it is to all Christian charity! 'Judge not,' saith our Lord, Luke vi. 37, 'and you shall not be judged: condemn not and you shall not be condemned.' 'Why dost thou judge thy brother,' saith St. Paul, Rom. xiv. 10, 'or why dost thou despise thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, and every one of us shall render account to God for himself. Let us not therefore judge one another any more.' and again, 1 Cor. iv. 4, 5: 'He that judgeth is the Lord: therefore judge not before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.' And again, Rom. xiv. 4, 'Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? It is to his own master he must stand or fall.' 'He that detracteth his brother,' saith St.James, chap. iv. 11, & c., 'or he that judgeth his brother, detracteth the law, and judgeth the law. There is one lawgiver and judge that is able to destroy and to deliver, but who art thou that judgest thy neighbour?' O let us always attend to these divine admonitions, and fly rash judgment like death.
Consider 2ndly, the injury done by rash judgment, first to God himself, to whom all judgment belongs; by usurping his authority, in judging and condemning others without his licence; and even presuming to claim his prerogative of diving into the intentions and secrets of hearts. Then the wrong that is done to one's neighbour, by passing sentence upon him unheard, and without sufficient knowledge of his guilt; (which way of proceeding would be highly unjust in any judge or court whatsoever,) and this without any sufficient authority over him, or observing any order or justice in this regard. Moreover, rash judgment, when voluntary, is also highly criminal upon account of its opposition to those two most essential virtues of a Christian, charity and humility. For the rashly censuring and condemning one's neighbour must needs destroy charity; since the property of charity is 'to think no evil,' 1 Cor. xiii. 5. and how can it be otherwise, for charity is love; and love, so far from rashly imputing imaginary crimes to the beloved, is ever willing to overlook even real defects when duty does not oblige us to correct them. And as to humility, nothing can be more opposite to it than the despising and undervaluing one's neighbour, and secretly preferring one's self before him, in one's own breast: now this is commonly one of the chief ingredients in rash judgment.
Consider 3rdly, that in order to overcome the vicious habit of judging rashly of one's neighbour, one must search out the root of this evil, and then lay the axe to the root, in order to cut it up. Rash judgment in many persons, springs from pride, and from their having too good an opinion of themselves; which makes them ever ready to believe the worst of others, and to censure them, in order to exalt themselves. In others the root of their rash judgment is the ill will, hatred, or envy, they bear to their neighbours which inclines them to put always the worst construction on what they say or do, and to condemn their intentions, even in their best actions. Others again, because they are evil themselves, judge ill of their neighbours, by themselves. Others, in fine, from the presumption they have of their own wit, great talents, and experience, arrogate to themselves privilege of passing their judgment upon every one,and yet proudly imagine they are out of the danger of rashness or injustice in so doing; such is the confidence they have in their own clear-sightedness, though alas! it often pretends to discover the mote in another's eye, and see not the beam in its own. The general remedy for all rash judgments, from whatsoever source they proceed, is to have our eye always upon ourselves, and upon our own faults, and to turn it away form our neighbour's; to endeavour also to be sensible how great an evil it is to judge and condemn our neighbours, and how pernicious it is to our own souls; to make frequent acts of detestation of it; and to pray continually to our Lord to be delivered from it.
Conclude to guard against all manner of rash judgments, as being hateful to God, injurious to your neighbours, and destructive of the salvation of your own soul. The study and practice of charity and humility is the sovereign means by which to obtain the victory over this pernicious evil.
Consider first, in what manner the vice of lying is everywhere condemned in the word of God. Our Saviour tells us, John viii. 44, that 'the devil is a liar, and the father of lies;' and Apoc. xxi. 6, that 'all liars shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.' and the Holy Ghost assures us by the mouth of the wise man, Prov. vi. 16, 17, that 'the Lord hateth the lying tongue;' and ch. xiv. 22, that 'lying lips are a great abomination to the Lord;' and ch. xiii. 5, that 'the just shall hate a lying word;' and Wisd. i. 11, that 'the mouth that lieth killeth the soul;' and Ecclus. xx. 27, that even 'a thief is better than a man that is always lying; but that both of them shall inherit destruction;' and xx. 26, that 'a lie is a foul blot on a man,' and xx. 28, that 'the manners of lying men are without honour,' and that 'their confusion is with them without ceasing;' besides many other texts against lies and liars. O let us fly and detest this evil, which is thus frequently condemned by the Spirit of God, as hateful to him, and pernicious to our souls!
Consider 2ndly, that the reason why lies are so hateful to God is, because God is essentially truth, and therefore as all lies are opposite to truth, they are all opposite to God, and cannot but offend him. Every known untruth, by reason of this opposition to the God of truth, is essentially evil, and ought not to be committed for any consideration whatever. God himself cannot dispense with any one, or give him a licence to tell a lie, no more than he himself can lie. Some lies indeed are more heinous than others; either because they more directly strike at revealed truths, or tend to degrade God and religion; or because of the injury they do to our neighbours, either in soul or body, goods or good name; and all these are mortal sins; but there are no lies whatsoever, not even such as are told in jest, or such as are officious, or for excuse, but what are essentially sinful, and therefore ought not to be committed, not even for saving the whole world; because evil is not to be committed that good may come of it. Besides, what good can be expected from turning one's back upon truth, and sheltering one's self in a lie? O! let us rather die than thus offend the God of truth.
Consider 3rdly, that it is a dangerous thing for any Christian to make slight of telling a lie, though it were only a lie of vanity or for an excuse, and without any design to prejudice one's neighbour. But it is still more dangerous to indulge one's self in a habit or custom of telling this kind of lies. For it is no small evil wilfully to dishonour the sovereign truth at any time, and to lead one's neighbour into error, by obtruding falsehood upon him for truth; but it is a very great evil to make nothing of entertaining a habit of wilfully offending God by such lies, and this upon a notion that if one can but escape hell, it matters not how much one otherwise offends him. For how can such a habit as this be consistent with loving God above all things? Or how can there be any security for a soul that treats her God in this slighting manner? Oh, no! let us not deceive ourselves; God is not to be mocked. Those that make slight of a habit of lies, can never be friends of the God of truth, nor reasonable expect to be eternally with him.
Conclude never to tell a known lie upon any account whatsoever, much less, for avoiding a little anger, or any other slight occasion. Nothing can justify a lie, not even the saving one's life by it, because it is an offence to God, who ought not to be offended, even to save the world.
Consider first, that after forbidding the sins and injuries committed by words or actions, God forbids also, in these two last commandments, the sins of thought and desire; particularly with relation to avarice and lust: 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife:' ' Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods.' These two kinds of irregular desires and inclinations, suggested by the lust of the flesh and by the love of the mammon of this world, are like a raging pestilence, which has infected the greatest part of mankind from the beginning - like another deluge they even overflow the earth. Money and carnal pleasures are the two great idols set up by Satan to confront the living God; to these men sacrifice their hearts and affections; the young by the concupiscence of the flesh, the old by the concupiscence of the eyes; and thus both old and young are for the most part debauched from the love and service of God, and made slaves to sin and victims to hell. Ah! Christians, never think yourselves innocent, though you keep your hands from stealing, and your bodies from fornication or adultery, if you do not at the same time keep your eyes and your hearts from coveting. Such you are in the sight of God, as your affections and desires are; if these are criminal you cannot be innocent.
Consider 2ndly, that by this precept, 'thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife,' we are recommended to set a guard upon our thoughts, upon our hearts, upon our eyes, and upon all other senses, that the fire of concupiscence may not make its way through any of those avenues into our souls, to burn them here with lust, and with the dark flames of hell hereafter. Ah! what have we not to apprehend from the depraved inclinations of our corrupt nature, if we do not turn away both our senses, and our imaginations, from all alluring objects, and shut those gates against the first suggestions of evil? How much more are all Christians bound to fly all such occasions as expose them to a more imminent and immediate danger of lewd thoughts and desires, as a great part of modern comedies, balls, masquerades, &c., are known to do, more especially with relation to the younger sort. And yet, alas! how few are there that are not too fond of these dangerous diversions, which are so near akin to the pomps of Satan, which we renounced at our baptism.
Consider 3rdly, the necessity of restraining also the corrupt inclinations of that other branch of concupiscence which relates to our neighbour's goods In order to this, we must in the first place renounce and detest all unjust desires, and such as any way tend to withhold from our neighbour, or deprive him of what, in justice, belongs to him: as also all wishes of his death, that we may come at his possessions; all desires of public or private calamities, for one's own particular advantage, & c. But then we must not stop here, we must lay the axe to the root of all these evils, which is the love of this mammon of iniquity; this unhappy vice of covetousness, which if it be not cut up, and cast out of the heart, will not suffer either justice or grace long to reside there, according to that of the apostle, 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10: 'They that want to become rich, fall into the temptation, and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires which drown men in destruction and perdition, for covetousness is the root of all evils.'
Conclude to fight, till death, against both these branches of concupiscence as capital enemies of the soul, which if not guarded against and overcome, are capable of doing us infinitely more harm than all the devils in hell.
Consider first, that all Christians are under a strict obligation of keeping also the precepts, that is the commandments, of the church; because the law of God commands us so to do. 'Honour thy father and thy mother' is a commandment which not only obliges us to obey them that are our parents according to the flesh, but also our spiritual parents, at least in matter spiritual, viz., the pastors of the church of Christ. To these Christ our Lord has said, Luke x. 16. 'He that heareth you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me.' To these he has given 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven,' with the power of 'binding and loosing,' St. Matt. xvi. 19, xviii. 18. These 'he has sent as his Father sent him,'' St. John xx. 21. With these he has promised to abide till the end of the world, St. Matt. xxviii. 20. These he has made his ministers, the stewards and dispensers of his mysteries and sacraments, 1 Cor. iv. 1, and his ambassadors, 2 Cor. v. 20. These he has given us for pastors and teachers, Eph. iv. 11, 12, & c. To these he has given the charge of our souls; and therefore the apostle calls upon us, Heb. xiii., not only 'to follow their faith,' v. 7, but also to obey them, and submit ourselves to them, v. 17. O blessed obedience! 'Tis in vain to pretend to obey our Father in heaven if we refuse to obey our mother the church.
Consider 2ndly, the excellency of these precepts of the church, and their admirable tendency to bring us to God, by obliging us to set aside so many of our days for prayer and other religious duties; to humble ourselves so often, and to do penance for our sins, by fasting and abstinence; to frequent the sacraments and sacrifices of the church, & c. O, these precepts are not mere human inventions or injunctions, they have been dictated by the Spirit of God, which always resides and presides in the church; they are enacted by divine commission and authority; they are, generally speaking, so many determinations of the divine law. The law of God and of nature requires that we should dedicate a considerable part of our time to the divine worship - the precepts of the church point out the particular days we are to set aside for this end. The divine law calls upon us to pay to our God the homage of adoration, praise and sacrifice; the precepts of the church prescribe for this end the frequenting the great sacrifice of the death of Christ, offered up to God in the holy mysteries. The law of God obliges us to do penance for our sins; to restrain our passions and lusts; to offer up pure and humble prayer to God, and consequently to fast and abstain, as far as shall be necessary for us to answer these ends; the church, by her precepts, orders the times for this penitential exercise, lest, if we were left to ourselves, we might neglect it. The law of Christ ordains the confession of our sins, and the worthily receiving the sacred Communion; the precepts of the church require, under pain of excommunication, that this divine law should be complied with in such a manner as not to defer the confession of our sins beyond the year, nor neglect receiving the holy Communion, at least at Easter. See then, my soul, how necessary it is for thee to observe all the precepts of the church, in order to comply with the law and commandments of God.
Consider 3rdly, the unhappy case of all such Christians as despise these precepts of the church of Christ. Alas! they despise in effect both Christ and his Father, Luke x 16, and will be treated accordingly at his tribunal. The wilful transgression of any one of these ordinances of God's church is certainly criminal in the sight of God; how much more the contempt of them? And what then must we think of the wretched state of so many souls that make a practice of transgressing these laws of the church, by breaking through the rules prescribed by her decrees and constitutions with regard to festivals, fasts, and abstinences; or with regard to the frequentation of the sacrament at the times appointed? Ah! such undutiful children as these, that live in an habitual disobedience to God and his church, deserve not the name of children, or of catholic Christians; and without a sincere conversion from these their evil ways, must expect undoubtedly to be reckoned another day amongst heathens and unbelievers.
Conclude to observe religiously the law and ordinances of the church of God, and see that they be religiously observed by all under our care. If there be a necessity at any time of your being dispensed with in any of these church laws, go to your pastors for this dispensation; but presume not to dispense yourselves. Only the pastor of the church can dispense in the precepts of the church.
Consider first, that pride is an inordinate love, conceit, or desire of self-excellence; or a delight and complacency in one's own self by occasion of some real or imaginary excellency which we have, or pretend to have, either in virtue, or grace, or knowledge, or in any other goods, or qualities, whether eternal or internal, considered merely as the means to make us excel, and as such puffing us up with self-esteem, and causing us to prefer ourselves before others, and to despise others. This pride is the mother of all vices, but more especially of ambition, presumption, and vain-glory; from which it differs only in this, that ambition aims at excelling in the way of honour and dignity, and in being set above others; presumption seeks to excel in the way of great achievements, attempted upon confidence of one's own strength; vain-glory pretends to excellence in the way of glory that is, in the way of being known, praised, and esteemed by others; but pride looks chiefly at herself, and sets up her own proper self-excellence for her idol, which she worships, loves, esteems, and desires above all things, and to which she sacrifices all things else. O deliver us, dear Lord, from this enormous evil, the first-born of Satan, and the original parent both of death and hell.
Consider 2ndly, that Gregory (L. 22, Mor. c.4,) distinguishes in pride four different kinds, or four ways of being guilty of this worst of vices. First, by attributing to one's self, and not to God, the good things we have from him, either of nature or of grace. 2ndly, by ascribing at least to one's own merits what we have received from God, and not giving him the whole glory. 3rdly, by conceiting ourselves to have graces, talents, or perfections which indeed we have not, and being puffed up in ourselves with this imaginary excellence. 4thly, by highly esteeming and valuing ourselves for the graces or good qualities we really have, and applauding ourselves in such a manner with them as to affect to have them of ourselves alone, and to despise others or envy them the like accomplishments. All these, in their nature, are mortal sins when fully consented to, and are of the worst kind of mortal sins; because of all the seven capital vices pride is acknowledged by divines to be the worst, by reason of its extreme opposition to God, in setting itself up as it were in his place, and, Satan-like, lifting up its head against him, and affecting a self-excellence which belongs to God alone. Hence we learn from the apostle, (Rom. i.,) the proud have often been delivered up, and abandoned by God to a reprobate sense, and suffered to fall even into the most shameful and unnatural lusts, in punishment of their self-conceit. O how enormous, then, must the vice of pride be in the eyes of God when the falling into such abominations as these is the punishment of it?
Consider 3rdly, that pride is a mortal sin, not only when one directly incurs the guilt of any of those four kinds or ways mentioned by St. Gregory, by one's own deliberate judgment and will, (at least as often as the matter is of moment,) but also when one incurs the guilt of any of them indirectly or equivalently, by taking such complacency in one's self, or carrying one's self in such a manner to others as if one judged one's self to have, or desired that others should judge one to have, any excellency or perfection of one's self, and not from God. As also when our affection or inclination to our own excellence, or the conceit we have of it, is joined with a great irreverence or injury to God, or a considerable contempt of our neighbour, or detriment to him; or again, when, through love or conceit we have of our own excellence, we withdraw ourselves from the subjection we owe to God and his holy law, or to the authority of superiors established by him. Ah! how common are all these sins? How many ways are poor unhappy mortals daily guilty of this highest of treasons against the divine majesty? And how dreadful are the consequences of this guilt, both in time and eternity.
Conclude to examine well thy conscience upon this head of pride; for it is a subtile evil which often imposes upon poor mortals, insomuch that they who are the most guilty of it oftentimes will not believe themselves to be proud. O take care not to be deceived by this noonday devil! Watch and pray continually against it; spare no pains to cast it out of thy soul. If thou thinkest it has no share in thee thou deceivest thyself; there cannot be a more evident proof of thy being proud than to imagine thyself to be out of the reach of this vice.
Contents of Challoner's Meditations
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