Consider first, the malignity of pride, inasmuch as it corrupts the very vitals of the soul, and leaves nothing sound in it. 'Tis a rottenness at the heart that spoils the fairest plants that grow on this infected soil. The fruits of the good works of the proud are like those that are said to grow on the banks of the Lake of Sodom, fair to the eye but rotten within. Their virtues are blasted, and have nothing but an outward appearance, because the root of them is corrupted. God is not with them, truth is not with them, grace is not with them: they have no foundation within them for any solid good, because they want humility; for God resists the proud and gives his grace to the humble.
Consider 2ndly, the malignity of pride from another point, viz., from its filling the soul with all other evils For this dreadful vice, not content with shutting the gate against grace and against all good, and even changing those that should be the most virtuous actions into crimes, opens wide the door to all manner of sin and iniquity, by setting all the other passions at work, to serve, by all kinds of extravagances, its unbridled appetite after self-excellence. To gratify this predominant passion covetousness is employed to procure, right or wrong, those riches that may furnish the means of excelling, and prodigality in the expending of them. Anger, hatred, and vengeance are let loose against all that thwart or stand in the way of its lawless pretensions. Inferiors are oppressed: they are treated with contempt and scorn; equals are envied as rivals in honour: they are judged, condemned, and slandered; superiors are slighted and disobeyed, & c. not to speak of innumerable other mortal evils, quarrels, murders, rebellious, heresies, blasphemies, and what not, which are frequently the productions of pride, besides all the abominations of lust and all its fatal offspring, to which the proud are so often delivered up in punishment of their arrogance. Sweet Jesus, deliver us from all these evils by teaching us to be meek and humble of heart.
Consider 3rdly, that the malignity of pride is chiefly owing to its opposition to the glory of God and to his divine truth. God is the Being of all beings, all things else without him are nothing; all excellence and all glory is his; we have nothing, excepting sin, but what we can have from him; we know nothing but through him, we can do nothing without hum. To pretend therefore to any excellence, as to our own property, or to any glory as due to us, or to appropriate to ourselves the gifts and graces of God, and to be puffed up with them, and to glory in them as our own, is a sacrilegious robbery of that which belongs to God alone; 'tis attempting to seat ourselves in his throne; 'tis claiming a share in his self-excellence, which is no less essential to him than his self-existence, independence, and infinity. For as none but God can be of himself, so none but God can excel of himself. For this reason 'every proud man is an abomination to the Lord,' Prov. xvi. 4, because he pretends to rival him in his glory, and like the arch-rebel Lucifer, to dispute his prerogative of being alone self-excellent. His pride is a lie, and of the very worst sort of lies, even that which was first framed by the father of lies, in pretending to be like the most high, and therefore it is most hateful to the eternal truth.
Conclude to detest and abhor, and to fly with all thy power from this abominable vice, which is so hateful to God, and so pernicious to all that suffer their souls to be corrupted with it. 'Give ear to the scripture,' Tob. iv. 13, never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, nor in thy words, for from it all perdition took its beginning.
Consider first, that in order to overcome thy pride, thou must not only be thoroughly sensible of the malignity of this evil in itself, and of the dreadful consequences of its being suffered to reign in the soul, but must also be convinced that thou thyself art continually in danger from it; that it is an evil deeply rooted in thy own corrupt nature; an obstinate and subtile enemy that will never cease to wage war against thee all thy life
long, and that is so much the more dangerous to thee, by how much the less it is apprehended by thee; so that the first and most necessary prescription against pride is to study well, that we may know our corruption in this kind, by the help of a frequent review of our own interior, and of the secret springs that rule and set all our passions to work; that so having rightly discovered the monster that affects to hide itself in the inmost recesses of the soul, we may declare an eternal war against it, by perpetual watching, praying, and fighting, and by frequent repeated acts, both exterior and interior, of the virtue of humility.
Consider 2ndly, that the true knowledge of God and of ourselves, acquired by the daily exercise of meditation and mental prayer, is the sovereign remedy against all manner of pride. For all our pretensions to excellence, all our groundless imaginations, by which we take ourselves for something, all these fumes of self-conceit which are so apt to fly up and to turn our heads upon occasion of any advantages, real or imaginary, which we ascribe to ourselves, are all put to flight when the light of the knowledge of God comes in and takes place in the soul, and shows her that all that is not God is a mere nothing. All human greatness, all power, all height, and depth, and everything that is created, dwindles away and quite vanishes when God appears: 'heaven and earth flee away from before his face, and no place is found for them,' Apoc. xx. 11; how much less can a poor man glory in his sight? O how can earth and ashes be proud in the presence of the immense, eternal, infinite Deity?
Consider 3rdly, that the light of God, which by a diligence in the exercise of mental prayer flows more and more into the soul not only serves to humble us in his sight, and to quell our pride by the sense it gives us of his infinite greatness and majesty, before who we are but wretched worms, and less than nothing; but also helps us to that true knowledge of ourselves which obliges us to vilify and despise ourselves. For here we are made sensible what poor creatures indeed we are, how mean is our extraction: as to the body, from dirt and corruption; as to the soul, from nothing - how early we are infected with sin, how full we are now of all kind of miseries, both corporal and spiritual; what a perpetual repugnance we have to good, and what a violent propensity to evil from our very childhood, how much we are encompassed with darkness, ignorance, and error; exposed daily to innumerable dangers; capable of all that is wicked, and incapable of ourselves of any good; certain of death, (though we know not when, where, nor how,) which will make over these bodies of ours to worms and corruption, and transmit these souls to judgment; and dreadfully uncertain as to the issue of that great trial and our eternal lot. And shall not all this suffice to cure our pride?
Conclude to spare no pains to acquire these two most necessary branches of Christian science, viz., the true knowledge of God, and the true knowledge of yourselves; they are the foundation of true humility and of all good, and to be learnt by meditation and prayer.
Consider first, that in order to overcome your pride, it will also be of good service frequently to reflect how vain and empty, fading and perishable those things generally are which men are apt to be proud of, such as worldly honours, riches, beauty, fine clothes, & c. which give no real intrinsic value or worth to the possessors nor serve to make them one whit the better in the sight of God, but on the contrary, if they are proud of them, make them by much the worse, yea, odious and contemptible both to God and man. For every one hates and despises himself, and such as proudly seek to exalt themselves, are generally humbled, both by God and man. And as to the gifts of grace or other talents received from God, it is still more criminal to be proud of them, because the more valuable they are in themselves the greater is the sacrilege in robbing God of the glory of them, by taking pride in them, as if they were our own and not his. O! 'tis humility alone, that is both the guardian and the best ornament of all other virtues; they quickly degenerate and turn into vices when we begin to be proud of them.
Consider 2ndly, that we may also extract an excellent antidote against the poison of pride from the very consideration of the deformity of our pride. For surely, nothing can be more humbling to the soul than to be made rightly sensible of the extravagant folly and madness, as well as the sacrilegious impiety and diabolical presumption she stands guilty of, by lifting up her head against her God, by arrogance and self-conceit. The consequence of which is that she is given up by him, to be possessed at present by the worst of devils, and becomes herself a very devil in his eyes, black, ugly, and odious,, like the devil, and condemned to be a victim of hell with him. And can a soul that seriously considers all this suffer herself to be any longer possessed by pride? Can such an odious monster, when brought out of its dark lurking hole, and set before the eyes of the soul, with all the train of woes that attend and follow it, find any more room in her? O 'tis most true, with regard to mortal sin in general, and to pride in particular, that the deformity and malignity of the guilt of it in the soul, and the eternal punishment of it hereafter, are most humbling considerations. For surely a soul that is turned away from God by mortal sin, and a soul that is eternally banished from him, and given up to the worm that never dies, and to the fire that is never extinguished in the dungeons of hell, can neither of them have anything to be proud of! Mortal sin and hell, those two most dreadful of all evils, leave no room for pride.
Consider 3rdly, who it is that is the king over all the children of pride? Whose standard do they all join in opposition to the God that made heaven and earth? Alas! they all join with Satan their mortal enemy, they follow him against their God, their maker, their redeemer, and their sovereign good. And what expectations can they have for following him for their king who is already himself condemned to hell? Ah! no other than endless confusion, perpetual discontent and uneasiness here, and everlasting damnation hereafter. Oh! it was this joining with the king of pride that has entailed all kinds of miseries upon the sons of Adam. To remedy these the Son of God came down from heaven by the mystery of his incarnation, and humbled himself even to the death of the cross, to oppose the standard of his humanity to the standard of the devil. He calls all men to join his royal standard, by learning of him to be meek and humble of heart, promising to rescue them that follow him from the tyranny and slavery of the wicked one, to give peace and rest to their souls here,and eternal joys hereafter. And shall we balance for one moment which of the two we shall join, the king of pride, or the king of humility, the tyrant of hell or the God of heaven? See here, my soul, most urgent motives to renounce thy pride, and to embrace humility. The one is suggested by Satan, who is damned for it; the other is taught by word and example by the Son of God, who by it has opened heaven for us; the one is the road to hell, the other to heaven.
Conclude to renounce the king of pride with all his pomps, and to shake off this heavy yoke, which never suffers the soul to rest; and instead of it, to take up the sweet yoke of Jesus Christ by meekness and humility, and thou shalt find refreshment here, and heaven hereafter.
Consider first, that the vice of vainglory is nearly allied to that of pride, and has for its object an imaginary excellence in the way of glory that is in the way of being known and talked of, praised and esteemed by others. See here, my soul, a dangerous vice, not only with regard to the children of the world, whose thoughts, words, and actions are generally influenced by the love of praise, honour, and esteem, or by the fear of what the world will say or think of them; but even with regard to the children of God, who are daily and hourly exposed to its temptations in the very best of their actions, and of their being quite vitiated and corrupted by this plague. This was the vice of the Scribes and Pharisees, who did all their works that they might be honoured and esteemed by men, and therefore their alms, their fasting, their prayers, and other good works availed them nothing in the sight of God, because vainglory corrupted them all, and at the very time that they were esteemed as saints by the world, made them like devils in the eyes of God. Christians, beware of this pernicious evil; watch and pray continually against it.
Consider 2ndly, that vainglory, which is always dangerous, amounts to the guilt of a mortal sin whenever the affection of the heart is so far set upon human applause, praise, or esteem, as to love it as much. or more than God: or, as St. Thomas of Aquin expresses it, when a person directs his attention in such manner to the glory of man as to make it his last end, to which he refers even the works of virtue, and for the sake of which he does not hesitate to offend his God. In like manner, it is a mortal sin when a person seeks vainglory by committing mortal sin; for example, by swearing, quarrelling, taking revenge, & c., to show his courage or to gain the esteem of being a man of honour, or for fear of being blamed or despised by the world. As also when any person, for the sake of maintaining his esteem, or for fear of being thought less skillful or less knowing, refuses to seek or admit of the assistance or counsel of others; and thus exposes himself to the danger of occasioning some considerable detriment, corporal or spiritual, to himself or to others. In fine, vainglory is a mortal sin whenever a man glories in the gifts and graces of God as if they were his own, and as if he had not received them from God. See, my soul, how many ways this love of worldly honour, glory, and praise which modern worldlings, like the ancient pagans, take for a virtue, is condemned by sound Christian morality as a capital vice, which sends innumerable souls to hell.
Consider 3rdly, the malignity of this vice of vainglory from its being the fruitful parent of a numerous offspring of other pernicious evils, oftentimes worse that itself. St. Gregory reckons up seven daughters of this unhappy mother. 1. Disobedience, which despises the ordinances of lawful superiors for the love of one's own worldly honour and esteem. 2. Boasting, that is vaunting or glorifying of one's self, of one's own talent or performances, and ever loving to be talking of one's self, a vice as odious and ridiculous as it is common in the conversation of the proud and vainglorious. 3. Hypocrisy, or making a show of godliness or sanctity to gain the esteem of men. 4. Contention or strife, that is, wrangling, brawling, and quarrelling in words, to maintain one's own opinion, right or wrong, or to defend what one has said or done. 5. Obstinacy in adhering to error rather than to acknowledge one's self to have been deceived, or to seem to yield or to be overcome. 6. Discord, or disagreement of wills and hearts, by occasion of different pretensions and contest for honour and esteem. 7. Invention of novelties in the way of new opinions, new fashions, or rather innovations, brought in to make one's self a name or to procure esteem or applause. See, Christians, what a train of evils are daily produced by vainglory. And what are all heresies and schisms but a compound of these same evils, and consequently the productions also of vainglory?
Conclude to keep a strict guard against this dangerous enemy of the soul as it will rob thee of all good and fill thee with all evil. Daily pray with the royal prophet, 'Turn away my eyes, O Lord, that they look not upon vanity;' and as often as in thy words or actions thou findest thyself attacked with the suggestions of this vice say with the same prophet, 'not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name give glory.'
Consider first, in order to cure this unhappy vice of vainglory - which is so deeply rooted in our corrupt nature - how little title we have to pretend to any honour, praise, or esteem from any one - we, who have so often and so grievously offended the creator of all, and who, if we were to be treated according to our deserts, ought rather to be despised and trampled under foot by all men, yea, to be detested and abhorred by all God's creatures. for there is something so black, so odious, so filthy and abominable in wilful sin that even toads and snakes, were they capable of knowing it, would hate and fly from the unhappy wretches that are stained with it. What pretensions, then, can such wretched sinners as we have to any honour, praise, and esteem, whilst we are conscious to ourselves of mortal sin? No other surely than the damned in hell. And can there be any room for vainglory there?
Consider 2ndly, how truly vain, how empty, how short how inconstant is all human glory and all the praise and esteem of men: 'tis like a puff of wind, which passes in a moment, and makes us not one jot the better in ourselves; it adds nothing to us in the sight of God, the just and true, and eternal judge of all merit. O give ear to the devout a' Kempis, 1. iii c. 50, 'The sentiments of men are often wrong in their judgments - what is a man the better for being reputed greater by man? One deceitful man deceives another: one vain man deceives another; the blind deceive the blind; the weak the weak whilst he extols him; and, in truth, doth rather confound him, whist he vainly praises him: for how much each one is in thy eyes, O Lord, so much he is, and no more, saith the humble St. Francis.' and again, chap. xiv., 'What is all flesh in thy sight O Lord? How can he be puffed up with the vain talk of men whose heart in truth is subjected to God? He will never suffer himself to be moved with the tongues of them that praise him who hath established his whole confidence in God. for behold, all they that talk of him are all nothing; for they shall pass away with the sound of their word, but ''the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.'' ' Ps. cxvi.
Consider 3rdly, that this passion for glory, honor, praise, and esteem, is not only highly unreasonable, foolish, and vain: but 'tis unjust too, 'tis impious, 'tis pernicious. 'Tis unjust and impious - because it tends to rob God of his glory, and to usurp what belongs to him alone; inasmuch as it pretends to appropriate to itself the glory of God's gifts, which he has reserved for himself. 'What hast thou,' said the apostle, 'that thou hast not received? and if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?' 1 Cor. iv. 7. 'Tis also pernicious, inasmuch as it robs man of the reward of his good works, and even poisons the best of his actions, and exposes the actor to the danger of being eternally published for those very works for which he expected an eternal crown. 'O take heed,' saith our Lord, 'that you do not do your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven,' Matt. vi. 1. No: no other reward, but that of the Scribes and Pharisees, against whom he pronounces his woes, because 'they did all their works to be seen by men, and loved the uppermost seats, and salutations and titles,' Matt. xxiii., 'and justify themselves before men;' but, said he, 'God knoweth your hearts; for that which is high to men is an abomination before God,' Luke xvi. 14. Ah! it was this love of human glory that stood chiefly in their way, and hindered them from submitting to the faith and simplicity of the gospel; for 'how can you believe,' saith our Lord to them, John v. 44, who 'receive glory one from another; and the glory, which is from God alone, you do not seek.' so pernicious it is to the soul to be a slave to vainglory.
Conclude, O my soul, for thy part, ever to seek the glory of God, by a purity of intention, in all thy words and actions; and God will reward thee exceeding great. If what thou art saying or doing be right in his eyes, it matters not what the world thinks or says of thee, or of thy performances; but if he disapproves of thy conduct, it will be of no service to thee to be esteemed and applauded by the whole world. 'for he that has a mind to be praised by men, whilst he is dispraised by God, shall not be justified by men, when he shall be judged by God, nor rescued by men, when he shall be condemned by God.' St. Augustine, Confess. 1. x. - c. 36.
Consider first, that the vice of covetousness consists in having too great a love, desire, or concern for money, or other worldly goods and possession; so as to set one's heart upon them; to be uneasy and solicitous about them; to cover them eagerly when absent, to take too great a complacency in them when present, and to make them the darling of one's affections. The malignity of this vice may easily be discovered from its opposition to God and to his worship, and to every branch of divine charity: which is so great, that in the language of the scripture, covetousness is named the serving of idols, and the covetous man is declared to be an idolater, Eph. v. 5, Coloss. iii. 5, because he worships and loves his money more than God; and what is idolatry, but 'worshipping and serving the creature rather than the creator'? Rom. i. 25. Yes, the covetous man serves mammon, the god of this world, more than the living God of heaven; for the love of mammon he turns his back upon his maker, neglects his love and service, and is ever ready to break through his heavenly law and commandments, rather than forego his worldly interests, to which he sacrifices his soul and all; and for the sake of which he hardens his heart against the necessities of his neighbours, and the cries of the poor. O, how evidently is here verified that of the wise man, 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 2ndly, the malignity of this vice of loving money, from its unhappy offspring, that is from the innumerable evils which it daily produces. It is the mother of theft and robbery, of fraud and deceit, of oppression of the poor, of usury and extortion, and of all manner of injustice; it employs innumerable lies and perjuries to support its darling idol. It is the parent of bribery and corruption, and of all the sad consequences this evil produces in the world. It even creeps into the sanctuary, and too often profanes it with manifold abuses and sacrileges. It has often brought forth heresies and schisms too, 1 Tim. vi. 10; and with them a deluge of other crimes; it has pillaged and destroyed churches, hospitals, and monasteries, and invaded and carried off the patrimony of the poor. It has even betrayed and sold the Son of God himself. O cursed love of money! How long shalt thou thus, like a second deluge,drown the whole world? When shall thy tyranny have an end? Wilt thou never cease to fill the world with all sorts of crimes, and hell with souls?
Consider 3rdly, that this vice of covetousness, besides all this brood of evils, which it daily brings forth, produces many other sad effects in the soul of man, even when it does not hurry him into those more scandalous excesses specified above; and when, in the eyes of the world, it appears more innocent. For where a person, though he covets not perhaps the goods of his neighbour, yet sets his affection too much upon riches or worldly possessions, and eagerly pursues after money, he quickly loses all relish for heavenly things, and all true sense of devotion: his heart is filled with the love of the world, and with many cares and anxious solicitudes about the things of the world, which, like thorns, choke up the seed of the word and the grace of God, and hinder it from bringing forth the fruits of faith, hope, and charity, in their due time. The love of riches overpowers his love of God and of his neighbour; the care of his eternal salvation is no longer his principal concern; he loses that confidence he ought to have in divine providence; he neglects religious duties; he does not give alms according to his circumstances; in a word he is continually in danger of breaking through the law of God, by commission, or omission, for the love of money: so dreadful are the consequences of covetousness, even when it pretends to keep itself within the bounds of justice!
Conclude to beware of this vice of covetousness, as of one of the worst of the enemies of thy soul; so much the more dangerous to thee, as it is too apt to impose upon persons, with specious pretexts of worldly prudence, and of necessity; insomuch that oftentimes they who are the most covetous, and whose heart is quite set upon this worldly mammon, are scarce sensible of their disease, however grievous and mortal. O take care, my soul, not to deceive thyself, nor to suffer thyself to be deceived. Examine well the bent of thy thoughts, and of the affections of thy heart, and thou wilt easily discover where thy treasure is.
Consider first, in what manner the word of God, in innumerable places, declares itself against this vice of covetousness. The wise man tells us, Prov. i. 19. that 'the ways of every covetous man destroy the soul of the possessor.' and Ecclesiasticus, 9, that 'nothing is more wicked than a covetous man.' Isaias, chap. v. 9, pronounces a woe against the covetous; and chap. xxxiii. 15, promises eternal blessings to them that cast away covetousness. Jeremias threatens the Jews with the worst of evils, chap. vi. and viii., because from the least to the greatest they all were given to covetousness. Amos also, ix. 1, and Habacuc ii. 6, 9, denounce the like judgments and woes from God against the covetous. Our Lord himself, Mark viii. 22, reckons covetousness amongst those crimes of the heart that defile a man. And St. Paul, Rom. i. 29, gives it a place in that black list of sins, of which he pronounces, v. 32, 'that they who do such things are worthy of death,' even the second death of a miserable eternity. And again, 1 Cor. vi. 10, he declares that the covetous shall never possess the kingdom of God. And Eph. v. 5, that 'they have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ.' And shall not the thunder of so many terrible sentences, pronounced by the Spirit of God against covetousness, deter Christians from this unhappy love of money?
Consider 2ndly, from the word of God, that these riches, which men so earnestly covet, are not capable of making them happy, or of satisfying the heart. 'A covetous man,' saith Solomon, Eccles. v. 9, 'shall not be satisfied with money, and he that loveth riches shall reap no fruit from them.' Daily experience confirms to us the truth, which this wisest of men had learned by his own experience, that the wealth of this world, instead of bringing along with it true content and peace to the soul, is generally attended with nothing but 'vanity and vexation of mind,' Eccles. ii. 11. Riches are deceitful, St. Matt. xiii., because they promise a happiness which they cannot give; they are thorns that wound and gore the soul, and they expose the possessors to many dreadful dangers of losing their souls for ever; because it is hard to possess them and not to abuse them, or put confidence in them, or at least set the heart too much upon them; witness that terrible sentence, Matt. xix. 24, 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Hence our Lord pronounces a woe to the rich, Luke vi. 24, 'because they have their consolation here.' and the apostle, 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10, warns us against the love of riches, as of all things the most dangerous and pernicious to our souls. O that men would be wise, and lay up in their heart these scripture truths! O that they would learn to despise these false riches, and only seek for such as are true, which men can never give nor take away! O that they would always seek to be rich in good works, and so to 'lay up to themselves treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth can consume, nor thieves break through and steal'! Matt. vi. 20.
Consider 3rdly, that the word of God recommend the remembrance of death, and the shortness and uncertainty of human life, as a powerful remedy against covetousness. Alas! how quickly will death be with us! And where shall our riches be then! 'I will say to my soul,' saith the rich man, Luke xii. 19, 20, 'thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thy rest, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said to him: Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be called for, and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?' O how true it is, with regard to the worldly rich, that the satisfaction which they take, or promise to themselves in their wealth, is at the best but a dream, and that when they have slept out their short sleep, 'they find nothing in their hands,' Ps. lxxv. No: 'we brought nothing with us into the world and certainly we can carry nothing out,' 1 Tim. vi. 7. 'wherefore having food and wherewith to be covered, let us be content.' Now these necessaries will never be wanting to such as seek in the first place 'the kingdom of God and his justice' - we have Christ's own word for it, Matt. vi. 33. Give ear again to the apostle, Heb xiii. 5, 'Let your manners be without covetousness, contented with such things as you have;' for he hath said: 'I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.'
Conclude to oppose these divine lessons against all the temptations of covetousness and worldly solicitude. If you are poor by condition, be content with your condition; you are more like Jesus Christ and his saints. Take care not to lose by your murmuring or impatience, the opportunity he gives you of merit. If you are rich, take occasion of humbling yourselves, to see the wide distance between your way of living and that of your Saviour. Dread the dangers you are exposed to by your riches, and arm yourselves against them, by poverty of spirit and humility - you have no other security for your souls.
Consider first, that the lust of the flesh, or the inordinate love of the unclean pleasures of the flesh, is another raging plague that has spread itself over the whole earth, and as it once brought down from heaven the waters of the deluge which drowned all the world, and another time fire and brimstone, which consumed whole cities, with all their inhabitants, so it daily calls down the vengeance of heaven, executed by visible and invisible judgments upon thousands, who are cut off before their time in the midst of their sins, and cast down headlong into the bottomless pit. The scripture has abundantly declared how detestable this vice is in the sight of God, by positively assuring us in many places, that such as are guilty of it in any of its kinds, shall never enter the kingdom of heaven, (Rom. i., I Cor. vi., Gal. v., Eph. v., Apoc. xxi., and xxii.,) and in particular, in the account it gives of the causes of the deluge, Gen. vi., by informing us that the general wickedness of men in this line was so odious in the sight of their maker, that he was grieved with it to the heart, and even 'repented him that he made them,' ver. 5, 6, 7. By which strong figures of speech, the Holy Spirit would have us to understand, how enormous this vice of impurity is in the eyes of God, seeing that he who by nature is incapable of grief, or repentance, or any other passion, was determined by the hatred he bore to it, to destroy all these his creatures, whom before he had so much favoured and loved.
Consider 2ndly, that what makes the vice of the lust of the flesh so odious in the sight of God, is its particular opposition to his purity and sanctity, by it defiling in a most shameful and beastly manner that temple which he has sanctified for himself, and this more especially with regard to Christians, whose bodies and souls have both of them been dedicated and consecrated to him in their baptism, both of which, by yielding to impurity, are shamefully violated and profaned, are brought down to the resemblance of brute beasts, and given up to be the hold of unclean devils. 'Know you not that you are the temple of God,' saith St. Paul, speaking to all Christians, 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17, 'and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him will God destroy.' And again, chap. vi. 15, 'Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ,' & c. and (v. 19,) 'the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God. And you are not your own, for you are bought with a great price; glorify and carry God in your body.' O Christians, attend to this heavenly doctrine, and see you never more presume to be guilty of so crying sacrilege, as to profane and defile the temple of the living God; to drive him out of his temple, and to set up filthy idols in his place; see you never bring in the devil thither, and sacrifice your soul to him, for the sake of a base, filthy, carnal satisfaction, that can last but for a moment.
Consider 3rdly, the dreadful consequences of yielding to the vice of impurity, and the dismal slavery to which it reduces the soul. One act presently begets a habit or violent inclination; this drags the poor soul on to new crimes, and by indulging these a custom is formed, which turns into a second nature, infinitely hard to be overcome, and which, without ceasing, exercises a most cruel tyranny upon the soul. Hence follow all those worst of evils, which St. Gregory (l. xxvi. Morl. c. 31) calls the daughters of luxury, or lust, as being the usual effects of a habit of impurity, viz., a blindness and hardness of heart; a running headlong into the worst of dangers; a thoughtlessness and insensibility with regard to the judgments of God and the truths of eternity; an inconstancy with regard to everything that is good; an aversion to God and to his service, and a perpetual love and seeking of one's self; a strong attachment to this world, and a horror or despair with regard to the world to come. Such is the unhappy offspring of lust - a train of evils not to be matched on this side of hell. Sweet Jesus, deliver us from this detestable vice.
Conclude to fly from all impurity more than death, and from all the dangerous company or other occasions that may expose thee to temptations in this kind more than from a house infected with the plague. The pestilence can only take away the temporal life of the body, but impurity will kill the soul for eternity.
Contents of Challoner's Meditations
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