THE INSTRUCTION OF YOUTH IN Christian Piety, Taken out of the Sacred Scriptures, and Holy Fathers; Divided into Five Parts.

WITH A very profitable Instruction for Meditation, or Mental Prayer.

By CHARLES GOBINET Doctor of Divinity, of the House and Society of SORBON, Principal of the College of PLESSIS-SORBON.

The last Edition in French, now render'd into English.

Ut detur Parvulis astutia; Adolescenti scientia & intellectus.

Prov. 1.

LONDON, Printed by Henry Hills, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, for His Houshold and Chappel; And are sold at his Printing-house on the Ditch-side in Black-Fryers. 1687.



TO Thee, O Saviour of Souls, according to my Duty and Desire, do I Consecrate this Work. It came from Thee, and it ought to return to Thee. And in Offering it to Thee,Paral. 29. I restore a thing which by all manner of Ti­tles appertains to Thee. They are Thy Divine Words which are here us'd, and those with which Thou wast pleas'd to inspire one of Thy greatest Servants. Thy Grace hath assisted me to Compose them by particular Aids which I have receiv'd from Thee in this small Labor. That fervent Zeal which Thou wast pleas'd so frequently to manifest for the Salvation of young Souls, when Thou wast upon Earth, hath given Birth to this Design; and the Hope I had of Thy Succor, hath given me the Confidence to undertake it. Let not my Misery stop the Effects of Thy Bounty, nor hinder Thy pious Instructions from producing in Souls the Fruit they ought to bring forth. Divine JESƲS! Animate with Thy Holy Spirit the Words of this Book. Cause them for whom it is made, in Reading it, to acknowledge the strict Obligations they have to Serve Thee, and the earnest Desire thou hast of their Salvation. Speak to their Hearts at the same time [Page]that these Letters inform their Eyes, and inspire them by the Motions of Thy Grace, with the Documents they shall here find for their Salvation. It behoveth Thee now rather than at any other time, to make the Effects of Thy Mercy appear upon young Souls. Tem­pus faciendi Domine, Psal. 118. dissipaverunt legem tuam. The greatest part abandon Thee, when they should begin to Serve Thee. They forget that solemn Promise they made Thee at Baptism, and the inesti­mable Favors they have receiv'd from Thy infinite Goodness. O Divine Saviour! Let not the Souls be lost which thou hast Redeem'd with Thy precious Blood, and for the Salvation of whom Thou hast testifi'd so great Love. Reserve them for Thy Service; Hinder them from bending their Knees before Baal, and from being destroy'd by the Infection of this perverse Age. Make that Zeal which Thou hadst for the Salvation of Youth, revive in Thy Priests; and grant me the Grace, which I most humbly beg, to be able to employ faith­fully therein, my Pains and Labors for Thy Glory.


THIS Book, dear Reader, hath no great need of a Preface; and if I give you one here, it is only to tell you that I had no Design to make it. Prefaces are necessary to advertise the Reader, either of the Design of the Author, or of the Occasion which gave beginning to the Work, or of the Order and Method that is observ'd therein, or of the Profit that may be reap'd, or of some such like thing. As for my Design, it is no other than what the Title of the Book doth bear, viz. To instruct Youth in Piety. This is all my Aim and Pretence. The Occasion which made me undertake it was, because being call'd to the Conduct of Youth, I endea­vor'd to make my self capable of so important an Employ­ment, and correspond with the pious Intentions of that Com­pany which gave me the Honor of that Charge. Now in laboring to Instruct my self, I found that what I had pre­par'd for my self, might serve for the Instruction of Youth, if it were reduc'd into Method: And this also might be most useful to me, because it is most certain, that the best way to Learn, is to Teach. I have therefore dispos'd of it into the Method you see, wherein I treat of Five things, which seem'd to me necessary to give young People an entire Instru­ction in Piety, viz. 1. The Motives which oblige them thereto. 2. The Means they ought to employ to obtain it. 3. The Obstacles and Difficulties which occur therein. 4. The Vertues which are proper for it. 5. The Impor­tance of making a good Choice of a State of Life, and the [Page]Means to perform it as one ought. Which is a Subject lit­tle known amongst young People, and less practis'd.

As to the Profitableness of this Book, dear Reader, it is not my Part, but yours to judge of it. The End for which it is Compos'd, which is the Instruction of Youth, will make you esteem it useful. The Matter of it, which is chiefly ta­ken out of the Sacred Scripture and Fathers, will cause you to make the same Judgment. If the Method I have ob­serv'd seem easie to you, it will give the final Decision.

In fine, I Write for young People: For them have I Compos'd this Work, and particularly for them whom God hath pleas'd to commit to my Conduct. If others more ad­vanc'd in Age take the pains to Read it, I desire they would peruse it with the Spirit of Charity, excusing what they find defective in it, and receiving kindly what they shall find good. But you, dear Reader, for whom I Write, I exhort you to advantage your self by this small Labor which I have gi­ven you, for your Salvation. I call you in this Instruction by the Name of Theotime, which signifies Honor of God; because I consider you in that State, or at least in the Will to arrive there. Read it then with this Spirit and Desire. Read it to be instructed therein concerning your Salvation, and to learn therein betimes what you are to do during the whole course of your Life, that is, to Serve him to whom you ow all. And lastly, that you may receive a certain and as­sur'd Profit, I demand of you Two things.

First, That you Read it with three Conditions; With a desire to Learn, With Attention, And in Order, that is, one Part after another.

Secondly, That you would consider, that it is not I who speak to you, but God, by the Divine Instructions he hath given us in the Sacred Scripture, and in the Writings of the holy Fathers. Read it therefore with all the Respect which is due to that adorable Master; and in these Sacred Foun­tains search for true Wisdom, without which all the rest is [Page]but Folly. Happy are you if you search it as you ought, and if you can one-day say with one of the wisest of Mortals, That you have search'd for Wisdom during your Youth,Eccl. 5. and that having seriously apply'd your self to the Enquiry, have found it, and made progress therein, you will, as he did, give all the Glory to God, who is the Author thereof. Danti mihi sapientiam dabo gloriam; And you will receive the Advantage, which will continue with you for all Eternity.

The Approbation.

VVE underwritten Doctors of Divinity of the Faculty of Paris, do Testifie, That we have Read a Book Intitled, The Instruction of Youth in Chri­stian Piety, Compos'd by M. Charles Gobinet, also Doctor, and Principal of the College of Plessis-Sorbon; wherein the Author hath Collected all the necessary Maxims for the Education of Youth in the Science of Salvation. The Devotion which it inspires is Solid, the Sentiments Catholic, and the Morality very Pious and Profitable. Paris June 12. 1655.

  • Charmolûe.
  • Le Blond.
  • Minindre.

The Division of the Book.

  • PART I. OF the Reasons and Motives which ob­lige Men to apply themselves to Ver­tue in their Youth.
  • PART II. Of the necessary Means to acquire Vertue during Youth.
  • PART. III. Of the Obstacles which divert young People from Vertue.
  • PART IV. Of the Vertues necessary for young People.
  • PART V. Of the Choice of a State of Life.

The Table. PART. I.

  • OF the Reasons and Mo­tives which oblige Men to apply themselves to Vertue in their Youth. Pag. 1.
  • Chap. 1. Of the End for which Man is created. ibid.
  • Chap. 2. Of our Vocation to the Grace of Baptism. Pag. 8.
    • Article 1. Of the Excellence of the State of a Christian, and of the Favor God hath bestow'd on him whom he hath call'd to this State. Pag. 9.
    • Artic. 2. Of the great Obliga­tions of a Christian. Pag. 12.
  • Chap. 3. That God requires, and singularly accepts the Ser­vice of young People. Pag. 16.
  • Chap. 4. That God particularly loves young People, and takes a delight to bestow upon them many Favors. Pag. 19.
  • Chap. 5. That they who Conse­crate not themselves to God in their Youth, offer him a most heinous Injury. Pag. 25.
  • Chap. 6. How God hath an A­version for wicked young Peo­ple. Considerable Examples upon this Subject. Pag. 29.
  • Chap. 7. That Salvation ordi­narily depends on the time of Youth. Pag. 36.
  • Chap. 8. That those who have follow'd Vertue in their Youth, conserve it easily all the re­mainder of their Life. Pag. 39.
  • Chap. 9. Proofs concerning the same Subject, by notable Ex­amples taken out of Sacred Scripture, of those who having been Vertuous in their Youth, have continu'd so all their Life; and chiefly of those who have resisted in great Occasi­ons. Pag. 44.
  • Chap. 10. That those who have been addicted to Vice in their Youth, are very difficultly cor­rected, and it often happens that they never amend, but mi­serably Damn themselves. Pag. 52.
  • Chap. 11. Examples upon the precedent Subject. And first of those who have corrected the Vices of their Youth, but yet with very great Difficul­ties. Pag. 57.
  • Chap. 12. Examples of those who have never amended the [Page]Vices of their Youth. Pag. 66
  • Chap. 13. Of the great Evils. which spring from the wicked Life of Youth. Pag. 72.
    • Artic. 1. The First Evil, viz. Death, which the Sins of Youth hasten to very many. ibid.
    • Artic. 2. The Second Evil which springs from Sins committed in Youth, Blindness of Mind, and Obdurateness in Vice. Pag. 76.
    • Artic. 3. The Third Evil, The loss of many fair Hopes. Pag. 78.
    • Art. 4. The Fourth Evil spring­ing from the Sins of Youth, The Excess of Vice amongst Men. Pag. 82
  • Chap. 14. That the Devil uses all his Endeavors to move young People to Vice. Pag. 84.
  • Chap. 15. The Conclusion of all that hath been said above. Pag. 88.


  • OF the necessary Means to acquire Vertue during Youth. Pag. 94.
  • Chap. 1. Wherein true Vertue consists. Pag. 95.
  • Chap. 2. That to acquire Ver­tue, we must desire it. Pag. 98.
  • Chap. 3. Of Prayer, the Third Means to acquire Vertue. Pag. 100.
  • Chap. 4. That they must love and seek after Instructions. Pag. 103.
  • Chap. 5. Of the necessity of a Guide in the Way of Vertue, and particularly during Youth. Pag. 105.
  • Chap. 6. Of Confession, and first of a General Confession. Pag. 110.
  • Chap. 7. Of ordinary Confes­sion. Pag. 115.
    • Important Advices concerning Confession Pag. 118.
  • Chap. 9. Of Holy Communion. Pag. 122.
  • Chap. 10. An Advice for Com­municating well. Pag. 124.
  • Chap. 11. Of Morning Prayer. Pag. 127.
  • Chap. 12. Of Evening Prayer. Pag. 131.
  • Chap. 13. Of Assisting devoutly at the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. Pag. 134
  • Chap. 14. Of Labor and Em­ployment of Time. Pag. 136.
  • Chap. 15. Of the Knowledge of ones self, very necessary for young People. Pag. 138.
  • Chap. 16. Of the Reading of pious Books. Pag. 143.
  • Chap. 17. An Advertisement concerning bad Books. Pag. 147.
  • Chap. 18. Of pious Conversa­tion. Pag. 150.
  • Chap. 19. Of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin and S. Joseph. Pag. 153.
  • Chap. 20. Of Devotion to the Angel-Guardian, and to the Saint of ones Name. Pag. 159.
  • Chap. 21. Of keeping of Feasts, and particularly of Sundays. Pag. 163.
  • Chap. 22. Of being present at Divine Service. Pag. 170.


  • OF the Obstacles which di­vert young Persons from Vertue. Pag. 181.
  • Chap. 1. The First Obstacle of the Salvation of Youth, the want of Instruction. Pag. 182.
  • Chap. 2. The Second Obstacle, the too much Indulgence of Parents, their ill Example, and the bad Instruction they give their Children. Pag. 185.
  • Chap. 3. The Third Obstacle of the Salvation of Youth, the Untractableness of young Per­sons. Pag. 189.
  • Chap. 4. The Fourth Obstacle, Inconstancy. Pag. 194.
  • Chap. 5. The Fifth Obstacle, A Shame to do Good. Pag. 197.
  • Chap. 6. The Sixth Obstacle, wicked Company. Pag. 200.
    • Artic. 1. How hurtful it is. ib.
    • Artic 2. How there are two things hurtful in wicked Com­pany, Discourse and Example. Pag. 204.
    • Artic. 3. Of four sorts of wick­ed Companions which must be avoided. Pag. 206.
  • Chap. 7. The Seventh Obstacle of the Salvation of Youth, Idle­ness. Pag. 209.
  • Chap. 8. The Eighth Obstacle, Impurity. Pag. 215.
    • Artic. 1. That the Sin of Impu­rity is the greatest Enemy of Youth, and Damns more than all other Vices together. Pag. 216.
    • Artic. 2. Of the sad Effects of the Sin of Impurity. Pag. 218.
    • Artic. 3. Examples of the mise­rable Death of those who were addicted to the Sin of Impu­rity. Pag. 225.
    • Artic. 4. Remedies against Im­purity; And first, that this Sin must be resisted at the begin­ning. Pag. 230.
    • Artic. 5. That we must avoid the Causes of Impurity. Pag. 233.
    • Artic. 6. Other particular Re­medies against Impurity. Pag. 239.
  • Chap. 9. Of Temptations. Pag. 242.
    • Artic. 1. What Temptation is, and of the Means to know whe­ther one hath sinn'd in a Tem­ptation. Pag. 243.
    • Artic. 2. That one cannot avoid being tempted, and that we must be provided betimes to resist Temptations. Pag. 245.
    • Artic. 3. Considerations to for­tifie the Mind in Temptati­ons. Pag. 247.
    • Artic. 4. How we must behave our selves in Temptations. Pag. 252.
    • Artic. 5. Of some Artifices by which the Devil deceives Men in Temptations, and princi­pally young Men. Pag. 255.
    • Artic. 6. Of two considerable Faults which ordinarily hap­pen to young Persons in Tem­ptations. Pag. 259.
    • Artic. 7. What is to be done af­ter the Temptation is con­quer'd. Pag. 263.
    • Artic. 8. Considerable Exam­ples to teach us how we must [Page]encounter with Temptations. Pag. 264.
  • Chap. 10. Particular Obstacles to rich young Persons. Pag. 269.
  • Chap. 11. Particular Obstacles to Noble Persons. Pag. 274.
  • Chap. 12. Particular Obstacles of young Incumbents, or such as have Benefices without Cure. Pag. 279.
  • Chap. 13. Advice to Parents up­on the same Subject. Pag. 284.


  • OF the Vertues necessary for young Persons. Pag. 289.
  • Chap. 1. That young People ought to propose to themselves the Imitation of our Lord Je­sus in his Youth. Pag. 290.
  • Chap. 2. Of the Fear of God. Pag. 294.
  • Chap. 3. Of the Love of God. Pag. 296.
  • Chap. 4. Of the Love of Pa­rents. Pag. 300.
  • Chap. 5. Of other Persons whom young Men ought to honor. Pag. 305.
  • Chap. 6. Of Tractableness. Pag. 307.
  • Cap. 7. Of Obedience. Pag. 308.
  • Chap. 8. Of Chastity. Pag. 309.
  • Chap. 9. Of Shamefac'dness. Pag. 312.
  • Chap. 10. Of Modesty. Pag. 315.
  • Chap. 11. Of Modesty in Words. Pag. 320.
  • Chap. 12. Of other Vices of the Tongue, and particularly of Swearing. Pag. 322.
    • Of Detraction. Pag. 326.
    • Of Injuries and Reproaches. Pag. 327.
    • Of Sowers of Discord. Pag. 329.
    • Of Lying. Pag. 330.
  • Chap. 13. Of Sobriety. Pag. 333
  • Chap. 14. Of Meekness and An­ger. Pag. 337.
    • Remedies against Anger. Pag. 341.
  • Chap. 15. Of Peace with our Neighbor, against Quarrels and Enmities. Pag. 344.
  • Chap. 16. Of Pardon of Inju­ries, against Revenge. Pag. 348.
  • Chap. 17. Of the Love of our Neighbor. Pag. 353.
  • Chap. 18. Of Fraternal Corre­ction, or of the Obligation of hindering the Ill of another, when one can. Pag. 357.
  • Chap. 19. Of Friendships. Pag. 365.
  • Chap. 20. Of Sports and Re­creations. Pag. 369.
  • Chap. 21. Of Liberality, against Covetousness. Pag. 372.
  • Chap. 22. Of Humility. Pag. 377.


  • OF the Choice of a State of Life. Pag. 384.
  • Chap. 1. How important it is to make a good Choice of a State of Life. Pag. 385.
  • Chap. 2. Of the Faults that are ordinarily committed in this Choice. Pag. 388.
  • Chap. 3. Of the Means to chuse well a State of Life. And First, That a good Life during Youth, is a Means highly necessary to succeed in this Choice. Pag. 392.
  • Chap. 4. That to succeed well in the Choice of a State of Life, it is most important to think of it before one be in the Time of Choosing. Pag. 397.
  • Chap. 5. Of the Means which must be employ'd, when one deliberates on the Choice of a State of Life. Pag. 399.
  • Chap. 6. What is to be done when a Man is upon the point of chusing his State. Pag. 401.
  • Chap. 7. Of the Qualities those ought to have of whom Coun­sel is to be taken for the Choice of a State of Life. Pag. 406.
  • Chap. 8. Whether Parents are to be hearkned to in this Choice. Pag. 408.
  • Chap. 9. Of the different States of Life, and first of the Eccle­siastical State. Pag. 411.
    • Artic. 1. Of the greatness of the Obligations and Dangers of an Ecclesiastical State. Pag. 412.
    • Artic. 2. Of the Vocation to an Ecclesiastical State. Pag. 417.
    • Artic. 3. Of the Preparation necessary for an Ecclesiastical State. Pag. 420.
    • Artic. 4. The Conclusion of the precedent Chapter. Pag. 424.
  • Chap. 10. Of a Religious State. Pag. 429.
    • Artic. 1. What a Religious State is; What its Obligations, its Advantages, and Dangers are. Pag. 430.
    • Artic. 2. What is to be done to know whether one be call'd to Religion. Pag. 433.
    • Artic. 3. That a Man must take time to know whether he be call'd to Religion. Pag. 437.
  • Chap. 11. Of the divers States of a Secular Life. Pag. 440.
    • Artic. 1. Of the Condition of the Great, and of those who Govern others. Pag. 441.
    • Artic. 2. Of the Offices of Ju­stice, and Magistracy. Pag. 451.
    • Artic. 3. Of a Court Life. Pag. 456.
    • Artic. 4. Of the Profession of Arms. Pag. 459.
    • Artic. 5. Of other Conditions of a Secular Life. Pag. 467.
  • Chap. 12. Of the State of Mar­riage. Pag. 470.
    • Artic. 1. What we must know of a Marry'd Life. Pag. 471.
    • Artic. 2. The necessary Dispo­sitions for a Marry'd State. Pag. 474.
    • Artic. 3. The Conclusion of the foregoing Chapter. Pag. 483.
  • Chap. 13. Of a Single Life. Pag. 486.
  • [Page]Chap. 14. Most important Ad­vices for young Persons, who begin to enter into the World. Pag. 492.
    • Advice 1. That the time of issu­ing out of Youth, and entring into the World, is the most dangerous of all the Life, and many are shipwreckt therein. Pag. 494.
    • Adv. 2. That the chief care of young Men, who enter into the World, ought to be to con­serve the Sentiments and Pra­ctices of Piety which they have observ'd in their Youth. Pag. 497.
    • Adv. 3. That young Men must fly carefully wicked Company, and particularly that of young vicious Persons of their Pro­fession. Pag. 499.
    • Adv. 4. That they must apply themselves quickly to some La­bor, which may employ their Time, and make them avoid Idleness, which is then most dangerous, and more than at any other time. Pag. 500.
    • Adv. 5. That young People ought to have a care of avoid­ing three ordinary Causes of their Ruin at that time, Play, Wine, and Impurity. Pag. 502.
    • Adv. 6. That they must avoid at that time, Irresolution con­cerning the State they ought to chuse, and after the Choice, not easily, nor without great reason, change. Pag. 503.
    • Adv. 7. That young Men ought to foresee the Dangers and Obligations of their Professi­on, and firmly purpose to a­void those Dangers, and ac­quit themselves of their Obli­gations, and live in their Pro­fession like vertuous Men, and according to God. Pag. 505.
    • Adv. 8. That they must accu­stom themselves betimes not to be asham'd of Vertue, nor of performing the Actions there­of. Pag. 506.
    • Adv. 9. That they must have a care to embrace a solid and real Vertue, and not an appa­rent and deceitful Piety. Pag. 507.
    • Adv. 10. That young Persons ought to fix themselves more and more in the solid Senti­ments of Faith and Religion. Pag. 511.
    • Adv. 11. That they must be strongly setled in the Christi­an Maxims, opposite to those of the World. Pag. 514.
  • Chap. 15. Christian Maxims. Pag. 516.
    • Maxim 1. That we are not cre­ated for this present Life, but for Heaven. ibid.
    • Max. 2. That the most impor­tant Affair which we have in this Life, is our Salvation. ib.
    • Max. 3. That Salvation is not obtain'd without Pains and Labor. Pag. 517.
    • Max. 4. That our chiefest care in this Life must be to please God, and live in his Grace. ib.
    • Max. 5. That we cannot be in the Grace of God, without ha­ving a constant Resolution ne­ver to offend him upon any score. Pag. 518.
    • Max. 6. That Sin is the greatest [Page]Evil which can befall a Man. ib.
    • Max. 7. That the worst of all Misfortunes, is to die in Mor­tal Sin. Pag. 519.
    • Max. 8. That this Misfortune happens to many, and to those who think not of it. ib.
    • Max. 9. That we must think frequently on Death, Judg­ment, and Eternity. Pag. 520.
    • Max. 10. That we must serve God for himself, & by Love. ib.
    • Max. 11. That we must have a Rule of our Actions, and that this Rule ought to be the Law of God, the Example and Do­ctrin of Jesus Christ, and not the World, nor the Example of others, nor Custom. Pag. 521.
    • Max. 12. That the World is deceiv'd in all its Judgments and Maxims. Pag. 522.
    • Max. 13. That to be united only to God, we must contemn Earthly things. Pag. 523.
  • Chap. 16. Of Perseverance. Pag. 524.

The Table of the Treatise of Meditation, or Mental Prayer. ARTICLE 1.

  • WHat is it to Meditate? Pag. 533.
  • Artic. 2. That without Medita­ting it is hard to effect our Sal­vation. Pag. 534.
  • Artic. 3. That Meditation is not an Invention of Man, but of God. Pag. 535.
  • Artic. 4. That Meditation is not so difficult as many conceive it. Pag. 537.
  • Artic. 5. That Meditation may be render'd facil. Pag. 538.
  • Artic. 6. That young Persons may Meditate, and that they have need of it. Pag. 539.
  • Artic. 7. A Confirmation of the two former Truths out of the Sacred Scripture. Pag. 541.
  • Artic. 8. Of the great Benefit of Meditation. Pag. 544.
  • Artic. 9. The Method of Medi­tation. Pag. 547.
  • Artic. 10. The Subject on which we must Meditate. Pag. 553.
  • Artic. 11. Another easie and profitable Subject of Medita­tion. Pag. 557.
  • Artic. 12. The Practice of Me­ditation. Pag. 561.
  • Artic. 13. Some Advices con­cerning Meditation. Pag. 566.
  • Advice 1. ibid.
  • Advice 2. Pag. 567.
  • Advice 3. Pag. 571.
  • Advice 4. Pag. 573.
  • Conclusion. Pag. 574.


Of the Reasons and Motives which oblige Men to apply themselves to Vertue in their Youth.

Of the End for which Man is Created.


AMongst all the things whose Knowledg is necessary for Man,The End for which Man is Created, is his first necessary Knowledg. that which first and before all he ought to un­derstand, is the End for which he is plac'd in this World. Because, being a Reasonable Creature, he ought to act for a final End, in the Enjoyment whereof he seeks his Happiness and Felicity. Now he cannot [Page 2]act for this End, without a Knowledg of it, which raises in him a Desire, makes him search and employ Means to arrive there. A Man who knows not his last End, is scarce distinct from a Beast, be­cause he regards only things present, things material, and sensible, after the manner of Bruits, and in this is more mi­serable than they; inasmuch as they find in these material things the Felicity they are capable of: And he, instead of finding his Repose, encounters with nothing but Disgusts, and the Source of a vast num­ber of Misfortunes.

From the ignorance of this last End spring all the Disorders and Corruption of Mens Lives; because forgetting their heavenly Beginning, and the noble and divine End for which their Creator had destin'd them, they absolutely stop at the enjoyment of the Pleasures of this mortal Life, without raising their thoughts or desires higher, living upon Earth as if they were made for the Earth.

And as it would be a thing which would move compassion, to see a Child born of Royal Blood, ordain'd by his Birth one day to wear a Crown and Scepter, being bred up amongst Peasants, ignorant of his Extraction, to apply himself wholly to Till the Earth, to bound all his Pretensi­ons within the Limits of getting a mise­rable Livelihood with the Sweat of his Brow, without having the least thought of the high Fortune for which he was born: [Page 3]So it is a thing much to be deplor'd, to see Men who are the Children of Heaven, destinated by God to reign there eternally with him, live in an entire forgetfulness of that End, for which they are Created, and setting all their Affection upon Earth­ly things, miserably deprive themselves of that Beatitude which the Bounty of their Creator hath prepared for them.

For this Reason, dear Theotime, resolving to exhort you to embrace Vertue in your Youth, I propose unto you first, and be­fore all things, what you are, and the End for which you are Created, to banish that so common and dreadful a forgetfulness amongst Men, that knowing your last End, you may ardently aspire to it, and begin betimes to perform what lies in you to make you worthy, and arrive there.

Recollect your thoughts then,Reflection upon Three things. dear Child, and reflect upon Three things: Who you are, Who made you what you are, And for what End.

First,I. What Man is. You are a Man, that is a Crea­ture endow'd with Understanding and Reason, compos'd of a Body, whose Stru­cture is admirable, and of a Reasonable and Intellectual Soul, made to the Image of God. You are the most perfect of all visible Creatures.

Secondly,II. Who made Man. You were not made by your self, for that is impossible; You have re­ceiv'd from another all that you have, and from whom have you receiv'd it, but from him who hath Created Heaven and [Page 4]Earth, and who is the Author of all things? It is he who hath form'd your Body in your Mothers Womb, and who hath created your Soul. You are the Work of a God; and besides the Father you have upon Earth, you have another in Heaven, to whom you owe all that you have.

Thirdly;III. Why God made Man. For what End did God make you? Be attentive, Theotime; For what End think you did God place you in this World? Was it to enjoy the Pleasures and Contentments of this Life, and of the Senses? To heap up Riches? To acquire Glory and Reputation amongst Men? Nothing less. You have a Soul too noble to be destin'd to such wretched and pe­rishable things: Pleasures are chang'd in­to Pain, Riches perish, and Glory vanish­eth away. Is it to continue a long time upon Earth, to find there your Happiness, and to look for nothing after this Life? If it be so, there is no difference betwixt you and Beasts. Doth not this so noble a Soul which God hath bestow'd on you, endow'd with Understanding, Will, and Memory, capable to know all things, clearly manifest that you were created for a higher and more honourable End? Doth not this Figure of the Body you bear, the Stature erect, the Head on high, and Eyes rais'd towards Heaven, (a Figure opposite to that of Beasts, which looks only upon the Earth) teach you that you are not made for the Earth?

Pronaque cum spectent Animalia caetera Ovid Metaph. terram
Os Homini sublime dedit, coelumque tueri
Jussit, & erectos ad Sidera tollere Vultus.
And whereas others see with down-cast Eyes,
He with a lofty Look did Man endue,
And bad hi [...] Heavens transcendent Glo­ries view.

Beasts are made for the Earth, they there find their Happiness, and for that reason they regard nothing but the Earth: But you, dear Theotime, you are Created for Heaven; that is the Place of your Ha­bitation, as it is that of your Origin; your Soul came from Heaven, and it ought to return thither.

But what find you in Heaven, that can render you happy? Will it be the sight of the Firmament, with all those beauteous Stars? Of the Sun,Vas admira­bile opus ex­celsi. Eccles. 43. that admirable Ves­sel, that excellent Work of God? And of all that is Wonderful and Great in Heaven? Not at all. All these things are not capable to effect your Felicity, God has esteem'd them too mean for you; he made them for your Service, not to be the Object and Cause of your Happiness. In a word, Consider all that is in the U­niverse, and all those vast and wonderful things which God hath Created, all this is not able to accomplish your Beatitude, and God hath not made you for any of these things.

For what then? For nothing less than himself, to possess and enjoy him in Hea­ven. He hath not judg'd the most beau­teous of his Creatures worthy of you; he hath given himself to be the Object of your Happiness.Nimirum ad imaginem Dei facta ani­ma rationalis, caeteris omni­bus occupari potest, repleri omnino non potest; capa­cem Dei quicquid Deo minus est non implebit. S. Beru. in De­clama. For this reason he com­municated to you a Soul, form'd to his Image, capable to possess him, and which by reason of this Capacity is never con­tent nor satisfy'd with the Possessions and Delights of this Life, as every one sensi­bly finds by Experience.

You were not then made for Creatures, dear Theotime, but for the Creator. Your last End is not the enjoyment of Created things, but of God himself. You were Created to be Happy by the possession of a God in Heaven,Oculus non vidit, nec auris audivit, nec in cor homi­nis ascendit, quae praepara­vit Deus iis qui diligunt illum. 1 Cor. 2. and to reign with him in a Felicity incomprehensible to Human Understanding: And this for all Eternity, that is, for a Time which shall never end, and shall continue as long as God himself. This is the most noble End for which you are design'd; This is the Inheritance which your Celestial Father hath prepa­red for you; This is the End for which he hath Created you, and at which the Creation of all this visible World, which was fram'd for your sake, doth aim.

This being so, convert your thoughts now upon your self, to make reflection upon Two things.

First, What have you done hitherto in [Page 7]order to that blessed End for which God hath design'd you?Two important Reflections upon the last End. Have you aspir'd thi­ther with all your Heart? Have you en­deavour'd to make your self worthy? Alas, perhaps as yet you have not had a serious thought of it; perhaps you are far remov'd from it by a Life full of Sins, imitating the generality of Men, who turn their Backs to that happy Country to which their Heavenly Father calls them. O Blindness of Men, how great art thou! O my dear Child, how do I deplore your Misfortune, if you be of that number!

Wherefore consider in the Second place what you have to do from henceforth, in order to obtain that happy End for which you are Created. How long will it be, that you will think so little of your dear Country! How long will you forget Hea­ven, O you Child of Heaven! O Man, S. Pet. Chrysol. Serm. 71. O homo, quid tibi commune cum terris, qui confiteris tibi genus esse de coelis? er­go coelestem vitam mon­stra in habita­tione terrena: quia si quid in te gesserit terrena cogi­tatio, coelo maculam, coe­lesti generi injurium in­tulisti. (saith S. Peter Chrysologus) what have you common with the Earth, you who acknowledg your self of a Heavenly Extraction, when you say, Our Father which art in Heaven? Manifest therefore a Celestial Life in an Earthly Habitation; If you live otherwise, you stain your noble Stock, and offer a great Injury to your Heavenly Origin. Conclude then, dear Theotime, and make here a holy Resolution to aspire to that happy End for which you were Created, and to la­bour carefully to make your self worthy, by a Life not degenerating from that of the Child of God, design'd to possess [Page 8]Heaven, and God himself, entirely flying Sin, the only Obstacle which can divert you from it, and destroy you for ever.

Of our Vocation to the Grace of Baptism, and the Obligations thereof.


AFTER you have known the End for which God hath Created you,Means to come to the last End or necessary Knowledg. you must understand the Means he hath appointed to obtain it, which consists in the Favour he hath done you, in making you a Christian, and withdrawing you by the Grace of Baptism, from the univer­sal Destruction of Mankind caus'd by Sin.

Here, Theotime, you ought to apply a serious Attention, to comprehend the greatness of this inestimable Benefit, which is a Business of vast Importance to be known in your Youth, to avoid the ordinary Misfortune of Christians, the greatest part of whom are absolutely ig­norant of what it is to be a Christian, and of what that Name and State obliges them to. This is the cause why they are so undeserving, leading a Life altogether con­trary to the Sanctity of their State, and why they are misfortunately lost in the Vocation wherein alone they might be Saved.

For this reason I beseech you in the Name of God, to read attentively this Chapter, which I shall divide into two Articles.

Of the Excellence of the State of a Christian, and of the Favour God hath bestow'd on him whom he hath call'd to this State.

YOU are a Christian, Theotime, What it is to be a Christian. by the Grace of God; but do you under­stand what this is, and what you are in this Quality? Take notice of it, and learn to know the great Favour God bestow'd on you, upon the Day of your Baptism.

By the Baptism which you have re­ceiv'd, you are wash'd from Original Sin, by the Merits of theQui dilexit nos & lavit nos à peccatis nostris in san­guine suo. A­poc. 1. Blood of Jesus Christ; withdrawn from the uni­versal Curse of Mankind incurr'd by Sin,Eramus na­turâ filii irae sicut & caeteri. Deus autem qui dives est in misericor dia propter nimiam chari­tatem suam qua dilexit nos, convivi­ficavit nos in Christo. Eph. 2. deliver'd from the Power of the Devil. You have been made thec Son of God, the Disciple of Jesus Christ your Saviour. You have acquir'd God for your Father, Jesus Christ for yourd Master, your In­structer, your Example, and for the Rule of your Life; The Holy Church for your Mother, and Tutress; The Angels for your Guardians, the Saints for your Inter­cessors. You have been made thee Tem­ple [Page 10]of God, who dwells in you by Grace, theHaeredes regni quod promisit Deus diligentibus se. Jacob. 2. Inheritor of his Eternal Kingdom, from the right and hope whereof you were faln for ever, and you are reduc'd into the secure way to arrive there, being made a Member of Jesus Christ, and of his Church, out of which there is no Salva­tion, and wherein you are now Illumina­ted with the Light of the Faith of Jesus Christ, Instructed with his Doctrin, Nou­rish'd with his precious Body and Bloud, assisted with his Grace, Furnish'd with all the necessary Means for your Salvation. O God, how Noble, and how Honourable is the State of a Christian! What Ac­knowledgments, Theotime, ought you to render to Almighty God, who hath heap'd upon you such vast Benefits!

To comprehend better the greatness thereof, consider yet that which follows.

1.Three impor­tant Considera­tions. God was not at all oblig'd to shew you that Kindness, but it is a pure Effect of his Mercy, and of the Immense Love he hath born you. It Non ex o­peribus justi­tiae quae feci­mus nos; sed secundum mi­sericordiam suam salvos nos secit per lavacrum regenerationis Spiritus Sancti, quem effudit in nos abunde per Jesum Christum Salvatorem nostrum. Ad Tit. 3.5. was not (saith the Apostle S. Paul) for our good Works, but by his Mercy that God hath saved us, by the washing of the new birth, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abun­dantly by Jesus Christ our Saviour.

2. Without this Grace which God hath given you, you could never have been Sav'd: For there is no Salvation without [Page 11]Faith, and without the Profession of the Christian Catholic Religion. Where would you have been, if God had not shew'd you this Mercy?

3. He hath not done this Favour to thousands of Men who live in Pagan Countries, in the Darkness of lgnorance and Sin: Nor to so many Hereticks, who altho' they be Baptis'd as you, yet live in Error separated from the true Faith of the Catholic Church, Columna & firmamentum veritatis. 1 Tim. 3. which is the Pillar and Prop of Truth. Why were not you of that number? Why hath God made you to be born in a Christian Country ra­ther than others, and in the Bosom of the Catholic Church, where you are In­structed in the Divine Mysteries, and things necessary for your Salvation? Where have you merited this Favour? What Happiness is it for you, dear Theo­time, to have had a Trial of so great Boun­ty of our God? Beati sumus, O Israel, Baruc. 4. quia quae Deo placent manifesta sunt nobis. O how Fortunate are we by the Mercy of God, which hath call'd us to the knowledg of his Divine Mysteries, and Adorable Will! He hath not shew'd this Kindness to all the World:Non fecit ta­liter omni na­tioni, & judi­cia sua non manifestavit eis. Ps. 147. And why hath he done it to us rather than others? O dear Theotime, how is it possible that we should not fix our Affection upon a God who hath lov'd us so much?

Learn here from a Christian King the Esteem you ought to have for your Vo­cation. St. Lewis King of France, had [Page 12]such a Value for the Favour God shew'd him in making him a Christian, that he not only preferr'd it before his Kingdom, as in effect it is infinitly above, but having been Baptis'd in the Caste of Poissy, he would bear that Name, and be call'd Lewis of Poissy, and in that manner Sign'd his Letters and Dispatches, esteeming that Title more glorious than that of the King of France. Magis se membrum esse Ecclesiae quam in ter­ris regnare gaudebat. Aug. l. 5. de Civ. Dei c. 20. And S. Augustin speaking of the Emperor Theodosius, says, That he ac­counted himself more happy for being a Mem­ber of the Church, than for being Emperor of the World. These Great Men, Theotime, knew how to value the Grace of Christia­nity, according to its real worth.

Of the great Obligations of a Christian.

IF the Vocation to Christianity be so high a Favour,Three great Christian Obli­gations. what are the Obliga­tions of it? Doubtless very great, and far others than what the generality of Christians imagin. Be attentive, Theotime, and learn what your Profession obliges you to.

It obliges you to believe firmly,First Obligati­on of Christi­ans. all that God hath reveal'd to us by his Son Jesus Christ, which is compris'd in Four Heads; viz. The Mysteries of Faith, The Max­ims of Vertue which he Preacht, The Re­compence of the Good, And the Punish­ment of the Wicked. You receiv'd Ba­ptism [Page 13]only upon this Condition. The Priest, before he Baptis'd, demanded of you, Do you Believe the Father, the Son our Saviour and Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost? And you have answer'd by the Mouth of your Godfather, Credo, I Believe. But re­member that this Faith ought to be Firm, Generous, and Efficacious. Firm, Three Conditions of Faith. not doubting of any thing that ought to be assented unto. Generous, not being a­sham'd to make Profession of it before Men. Efficacious, living according to the Verities you believe, as we are about to say, and not by your Actions giving the Lye unto your Faith;Qui confiten­tur se nosce Deum, factis autem ne­gant. Tit. 1. imitating many Christians, who, as the Apostle says, Con­fess Jesus Christ with their Mouth, and deny him by their Works.

The Profession of Christianity obliges you to renounce the Devil,Second Chri­stian Obliga­tion. and all his Works. This is also a Condition with which you were receiv'd to Baptism. The Priest asking you,Abrenuntias Satanae & om­nibus pompis ejus, & omni­bus operibus ejus? Do you Renounce the Devil, and all his Pomps, and all his Works? And you have answer'd, Abrenuntio, I Re­nounce. O Theotime, have you ever re­flected upon this Renunciation, and do you understand well what it is? It is a solemn Profession which you have made, not to Serve any more the Devil, nor fol­low his Pomps, that is, the false Appear­ances of Earthly Goods and Pleasures, by the love of which he endeavours to se­duce and destroy Men; and to fly from all his Works, which are the Works of [Page 14]Darkness and Sin. It is a Profession which you have made in the Hands of the Church, in the sight of Angels, and where­in,In qua profes­sione non ho­minibus, sed Deo & angelis ejus conscri­bentibus, dix­istis renuntio, renuntiate non solum vo­cibus sed eti­am moribus, non tantum sono linguae sed actu vitae. S. Aug. l. 4. de Symbolo ad Ca­techum. c. 4. as S. Augustin says, you have made a Renunciation, not speaking to Man, but to God, and the Angels, who are Witnes­ses and Depositaries of your Word, and who carefully keep it in Heaven. You are oblig'd to observe this Renunciation which you have made; you have abjur'd the Devil by your Words, you must also abandon him by your Life and Actions, if you will not be accounted a perfidious Per­son, and a Fugitive. Alas, Theotime, have you done so? But at least, Will you do it for the future? Is it possible that you should return to that Enemy, which you have so solemnly renounced.Aug. ibid. Quid tibi cum pompis Diaboli, quibus renuntiasti? Quid tibi cum pompis Diaboli, amator Christi?

The Profession of a Christian obliges you to live in Vertue,Third Obliga­tion of a Chri­stian. and Innocence, fly­ing Sin more than Death. To admonish you of this Obligation, the Priest, after he had Baptis'd you, Cloath'd you with a white Garment, speaking these Words; Receive this white Garment, Accipe vestem candidam, quam imma­culatam per­feras ante thronum Dei. which you shall carry without Spot or Stain before the Judg­ment-Seat of God: To make you remem­ber by that exterior Whiteness, and by those Words, to conserve diligently the Beauty, and interior Purity which your Soul had then receiv'd by the Grace of Baptism. O Theotime, meditate well upon these Words, and call to mind what will [Page 15]befall you at the Judgment of God, if you defile that Innocence by a Life full of Sin. This white Robe with which you have been Cloath'd, will condemn you in that dreadful Day; The Priest who hath Ba­ptis'd you, will rise up against you, and demand of God, Vengeance for the Abuse you have offer'd to the Grace of your Baptism.

I shall recount to you for this purpose a memorable Action of a Deacon of Car­thage call'd Murita, towards the Judg Elpidophorus an Arian, who having been receiv'd by him at the Font of Baptism, had renounc'd afterwards the Catholick Faith. This holy Deacon being Cited be­fore that wicked Judg, to give an Account of his Faith, carry'd with him the white Garment with which he had Cloath'd him in his Baptism, and exposing it to the view of all, spoke to him these Words, with which he drew Tears from all that were present;Victor Ʋti­censis lib. 3. persecut. Van­dalorum. Haec sunt lin­teamenta, El­pidophore, Minister Er­roris, quae te accusabunt, dum majestas venerit Judi­cantis, custo­diente dili­gentia mea ad testimonium tuae perditio­nis, ad de­mergendum te in abyssum putei sulphurantis, haec te immaculatam cinxerant de Fonte surgentem, haec te acrius persequentur, flammantem gehennam cum caeperis possidere. Behold, O Elpiphodorus, Mini­ster of Error, the white Garment, which will accuse you before the Divine Majesty, at the Day of Judgment. I have carefully preserv'd it to be the Proof of your Apostacy, and to pre­cipitate you into the abyss of Hell: It serv'd you as an Ornament when you came from Ba­ptism, wash'd and cleans'd from your Sins; and it shall serve to make you suffer more sensibly the Eternal Flames.

That God requires, and singularly accepts the Service of young People.


AFTER the precedent Considerati­ons,Three Conside­rations to ob­lige Men to Serve God in their Youth. I pass to others yet more par­ticular, to convince you of the most strict Obligation you have to Consecrate your self to God in your Youth. The first which I advance is, That God earnestly desires to be Serv'd by you in that Age, and that the Service of young People is particularly agreeable to him. I shall make clear this Truth by Three Reasons.

First,First Reason. Because the Time of Youth is the Beginning of Life. Now it is certain, that a­mongst all things God demands particular­ly the First and Beginnings. He ordain'd for this reason in the ancient Law, that the First-fruits of all things that grew should be Offer'd to him: He would have amongst the Fruits, the First that was gather'd to be Presented to him; Amongst Beasts, the First to be Offer'd in Sacrifice to him; And amongst Men, the Eldest Sons to be Presented in his Temple to Serve there, permitting them afterwards to be Re­deemed; shewing by this Institution, that altho' all things did equally appertain unto him, yet he had a special Esteem for the First, as those which above all others were due unto him, and which he requir'd in [Page 17]Title of Acknowledgment. Whence it evidently follows, That the Time of Youth being the beginning and first part of our Life, God demands it particular­ly, and would have it Presented unto him, to be faithfully Employ'd in his Service.

Secondly,Second Reason. The Time of Youth is most pleasing to God, because properly speak­ing, according to the natural Order of things, it is the most innocent part of Life, and least corrupted by Sin: Because in that Time one has not so full a know­ledge of Evil, nor so much ability, and occasion to perform it: Ones Judgment is not prejudicated by the false Maxims of the World, nor his Manners, nor Inclina­tions deprav'd by the Infection of the Wicked. Besides, the Grace receiv'd in Baptism being yet fresh, renders that Age more agreeable to God, at least in the Person of those, who by a Life full of Sin, trample not under their Feet that Grace, and Robe of Innocence.

But take notice, Theotime, I have said, That that Age is less corrupted, common­ly speaking, and according to the natural Order of things; yet it is but too true, that many times much Corruption is found therein; but this against the Order Nature hath establish'd, which hath given to that Age for its Portion, a Simplicity of Mind, and Innocence of Manners; and those are so much more culpable, who by their Malice and Depravation, corrupt what Nature had render'd as it were con­sonant [Page 18]to it, learning Wickedness, and running after it, in an Age where Nature her self taught nothing but Simplicity and Innocence.

The Third Reason which declares that God particularly desires to be Serv'd by you in your Youth,Third Reason. dear Theotime, is, That it is the Time where you have the most occasion to make appear that you love God sincerely: For it is the Time of the first Temptations, wherein you begin to be mov'd to renounce his Love, and Ser­vice. You are tempted by your own Pas­sions, which are then in their prime vio­lence: Invited by those of your Age, who often solicit you to Wickedness, either by their Example or by their Discourse: Pro­voked by the Enemy of your Salvation, who uses all his Endeavours to withdraw you from the Service of God, and secure himself quickly of your Person. So that this Time may properly be call'd the Time of Combat, and Trial; wherein you shew you love God with a constant and real Affection, if you couragiously re­sist those first Assaults.Gubernator in tempestate dignoscitur, in acie miles probatur. De­licata jactatio est cum peri­culum non est: conflictatio in adversis pro­batio est veri­tatis. S. Cypr. lib. de Morta­litate. It is but a small thing to be Generous in Time of Peace, to have Courage when one is not Attackt, not to commit Wickedness when one is not Tempted; But to resist Evil, and fly from Sin in the Time of Temptation, and in the Age where one finds the greatest danger of being ruin'd, is a real Proof of true Vertue, and an assur'd Mark that one loves God above all things.

These Reasons, Theotime, make appear, that God hath a special Affection for the Service of young Persons, which being employ'd in the flight of Sin, and Service of God, are the most agreeable that can be Offerd unto him. And, as a Learned Author says excellently well,Qui hac aeta­te se domant, & Deo se so­ciant, offe­runt Deo Ho­stiam viven­tem, Deo pla­centem, im­maculatam. Hugo à Sanct. Vict. those who in this Time of Youth overcome them­selves, resisting couragiously the Tempta­tion of Sin, to Consecrate themselves en­tirely to the Service of God, Offer in their Youth a continual Sacrifice, wherein they Present to God a living Victim, and a most agreeable Offering to God without Spot, since they have a horror for the unclean­ness of Sin, and make a perfect Oblation in all Points. O Theotime, retain well this Truth in your Mind, and never for­get it.

That God particularly loves young People, and takes a delight to bestow upon them many Favours.

I SAY moreover, Theotime, Fourth Conside­ration to Serve God in Youth. that God not only earnestly desires to be Serv'd by you in your Youth, but loves you in that Age with a particular Kindness, and takes a delight to bestow upon you more Favours at that Time than in any other, to assist you to Serve him, and to attract you to it more powerfully. This Verity [Page 20]is no less certain than the former; See how I Prove it.

God is pleas'd with his Favours parti­cularly to assist Thre sorts of Persons; The Weak, The Simple, that is, those who have least knowledg of Evil; And the Humble. The Weak, because there the force of his Grace doth most appear.Deus non projiciet Sim­plicem, nec porriget ma­num Malignis. Job 8. The Simple, because having less know­ledg of Evil, they ordinarily put the least Impediments to the Grace of God, who, as the Sacred Scripture says,Cum Sim­plicibus Ser­mocinatio ejus. Prov. 3. Rejects not the Simple, as he stretcheth not out his Hand to assist the Wicked. The Humble, because as the chief Obstacle of the Grace of God is Pride, so the best Disposition to obtain it, is Humility, according to that Saying of Scripture,Deus super­bis resistit, humilibus au­tem dat grati­am. Jacob. 4. God resists the Proud, and gives Grace to the Humble.

Now these Three Qualities ordinarily occur in Youth; There is found in Youth the most Weakness, not only of Body but Mind, the Judgment not being as yet well form'd by Knowledg and Experience, nor the Will sufficiently fix'd against Im­pressions contrary to its Good. There is in Youth more Simplicity, having less knowledg of Evil, and less discernment than in a more advanc'd Age. There is also in Youth more Humility, which is as it were natural to that Age, which is fram'd to be Subject and Obey; and if Pride be found, as it happens but too often, in young Minds, it is by an ex­tream Corruption, which subverts the [Page 21]Order of things, and destroys Nature her self. Hence it manifestly follows, That God, who is delighted to make his Bounty appear towards those who have most need of it, and render not themselves undeser­ving, is pleas'd to communicate many Fa­vours to young People, and to cherish them with good Thoughts and Desires, and all other Assistances of his Grace, when they oppose not him by their wick­ed Life, and make not themselves unwor­thy, by corrupting the Innocence of their Age with the malice of their Mind, and by the multitude of their Sins.

For Confirmation of this Truth, there needs no other Testimony than Experi­ence, which makes it appear most mani­festly. Alas! Theotime, how many are there, who advancing forward out of Youth, find in themselves a great Change, not being partakers any more of so many Favours as they receiv'd in their Youth? Then holy Inspirations were frequent, good Desires, and pious Resolutions were familiar to them; they had an aversion and apprehension of Evil, Goodness was agreeable to them, Vertue was sweet and facil to them. But now they find that all these things are chang'd; Inspirations more rare, Sin causes in them a less hor­ror; Devotion becomes cold, and some­times totally extinct, by a sad alteration, which makes them with much reason re­gret the Time past, and Favours lost, which those Words of Job, Quis mihi tribuat ut sim juxta menses pristinos, se­cundum dies quibus Deus custodiebat me, sicut sui in diebus ado­lescentiae meae quando erat omnipotens mecum. Job 29. Who will [Page 22]shew me the kindness that I may see again the Time past, and the State wherein I was in my Youth, when God was with me by the assistance of his Grace?

S. Augustin did very notably Experience this Change in his own Person, as he him­self acknowledges in his Confessions; for he saith, That beingVidisti Deus meus! quo motu animi & quâ fide ba­ptismum Christi tui, Dei & Domi­ni mei flagi­tavi a pietate matris meae & matris omni­um Ecclesiae tuae. Aug. l. 1. Confes. c. 19. faln into a Sickness when he was yet a young Youth, he de­manded Baptism with very great Earnest­ness and Devotion, which was deferr'd him for some particular Reasons.Neque desi­derabam in illo tanto pe­riculo baptis­mum tuum, & melior eram puer, quando illum de materna pietate flagitavi, sicut jam recordatus & confessus sum. Ibid. lib. 5. cap. 9. And that in another great Distemper which he had about Thirty Years of Age, he never thought of asking for it. O Theotime, I beseech God that this Change and Sorrow never befall you: But it happens to many, and shews clearly the Love God bears to young Persons, and the Favours he be­stows upon them, which he doth not with­draw from them, but when they contemn them, and make themselves unworthy.

But if you will yet have a convincing and demonstrative Proof of the particular Love God bears young People, consider what the Son of God did upon this Occa­sion whilst he was in the World. Besides that he would become himself a Child, and pass thro' all the Degrees of Age, of Infancy, of Childhood, of Youth, he be­ing able to dispence with himself, and be­come a perfect Man from his first Entrance [Page 23]into the World, how often did he during his Life, testifie his Love and Tenderness for that Age?Matth. 19. Marc. 10. Luc. 18. The Gospel recounts in many places, how he frequently call'd to him little Children, and commanded they should be permitted to approach to him; He was displeas'd when they were never so little hindred from drawing near him, saying that it was to them that the King­dom of Heaven did appertain; Sinite parvulos venire ad me, talium est enim reg­num coelorum. Et comple­ctens eos, & imponens ma­nus super eos, benedicebat eis. Marc. 20. He embrac'd them with an admirable Tenderness, and sent them not back till he had impos'd his Hands upon them, and given them his holy Bene­diction.

The most notable Cures he wrought were of young People;Amat Christus Infantiam, quam & ani­mo suscepit & corpore: a­mat Christus Infantiam, humilitatis magistram, innocentiae regulam, mansuetudinis formam. Aug. Scrm. 8. de Epiph. Such was the Son of the King, who was ready to expire, in John Chap. 4. Another who was torment­ed with the Devil, Mat. 17. The Servant of the Centurion, and the Daughter of the Cananean.

Of the three Dead which he rais'd to Life, two were very young, viz. the Daughter of Jairus, and the Son of the Widow of Naim; and the third, who was Lazarus, was not in Years. Of the twelve Apostles, he lov'd particularly the youngest, which was S. John.

Lastly, What greater Proofs can we bring of the Love Jesus Christ bears young [Page 24]People, than the Two which I shall speak of?

The First is the Assurance he hath gi­ven,Qui suscepe­rit parvulum talem in no­mine meo, me suscipit. Mat. 18. that all the Favours which shall be bestow'd upon them, shall be accounted as done to himself. He (says he) that receives a Little One in my Name, receives Me.

The Second is that dreadful Menace which he afterwards utter'd against those that Scandalize the Little Ones, that is, who make them fall into any Sin.Qui autem scandalizave­rit unum de pusillis istis qui in me cre­dunt, expedit ei ut suspen­datur mola asinaria in collo ejus, & demergatur in profundum maris. Mat. 18. If any one (says he) Scandalize the Little Ones who believe in Me, it were better a Milstone were ty'd about his Neck, and he cast into the bottom of the Sea. Was not this a great Token of the singular Affection Jesus Christ bore to young Souls, since he speaks with so much Zeal and Indigna­tion against those who contribute the withdrawing them from his Service?

These, dear Theotime, are convincing Proofs of the Love God has for you in your Youth. After these Assurances you have had thereof, can you refuse the Love and Service he demands of you in this Age? Doubtless you cannot without an extream Ingratitude, and without offer­ing him a most enormous Affront, as we are about to see.

That they who Consecrate not themselves to God in their Youth, offer him a most hei­nous Injury.

THIS Truth evidently follows out of the Two former;Fifth Conside­ration to Serve God in Youth. for if it be true as we have manifested, That God desires and demands particularly the Service of young People, and hath an extream Love for that Age, on which he bestows very singular Favours to assist it, and invite it to his Service; It follows,The Injury that is done to God by not Serving him in that Age That to refuse him the Service he desires, and requires with so much Justice, and not to answer the Love he testifies to Youth by so many Favours and Benefits, is to offer him a most heinous and enormous Affront. But be­cause this Verity is of such Consequence, that it can never be sufficiently inculcated, I shall make you see it more distinctly by the Three following Considerations, which I beseech you to Examine well.

First,First Reason of this Injury. Not to Consecrate the Time of Youth to the Service of God, is to take away a certain and assured Time, which you may give him, to reserve him an un­certain, which you are not sure to have, and which is not in your power, viz. the Time to come. This is the First Degree of the Injury you offer to God. You pro­mise God to Serve him when you are older. Who hath told you that you shall live a [Page 26]long time? If you are not certain to be alive to Morrow, how are you sure to live Ten Years hence? There are more who die before Twenty or Twenty five Years of Age, than after. Now if you have no assurance to live a long time, is it not a great Injury you do to God, to promise him the Time to come, which you have not, nor is in your power, and refuse him the Time present, which you enjoy? What think you, Theotime, do's not he de­ride God, who acts in this manner? and doth he not evidently manifest that he hath no true Will to Serve him, deferring to Consecrate himself to him in a Time which perhaps may never come?

Secondly,Second Reason. You not only reserve an un­certain Time for God, but take away the better to give him the worse. For refu­sing to Serve God, and apply your self to Vertue in your Youth, which is, as we said before, ordinarily less deprav'd by Vice, and most favour'd by Kindnesses from God, you reserve to your self a Time wherein all things conspire to hinder you, and render you unfit for Good, and the Exercise of Vertue. The Inconveniences of the Body which daily are caus'd, the Inve­terate Vicious Habits wherein you will be Engag'd, the Perplexity of Worldly Af­fairs, the Solicitude of Temporal Things, the Spirit and Maxims of the World, which you have Embraced.Totus mun­dus in malig­no positus. 1 Joh. 5. The World, which (as S. John says) is entirely plung'd in Vice and Corruption, which breaths [Page 27]after nothing but Pleasures, Covetousness, Pride, and has no more thought of Salva­tion and Eternity, than if there were no such thing at all.

All these things will bring an incredi­ble Impediment to your Salvation, and will absolutely divert you from the Ser­vice of God, if you prevent not them in good time, by applying your self in your Youth to the Flight of Sin, and to the Pra­ctice of Vertue. Judge then of the Inju­ry you do to God, deferring to Serve him in a Time where you shall have so ma­ny Hindrances, and not resolving to Serve him another where you have so many Means and Advantages. Doubtless this is a grievous Injury; Yet this is not all, take notice of that which follows.

That which fully concludes the Enor­mity of the Injury offer'd to God, is,Third Reason. That not intending to Serve him in your Youth, you will give him nothing but the remainder of Sin, delaying to Serve him till after you have pass'd your Time mer­rily in your Youth, satisfy'd all your Pas­sions, and follow'd the wicked Inclinations of your Age; So that the Time you re­serve, is but the remnant of what you have employ'd in Sin, and Service of the Devil.

Do you comprehend, Theotime, the heinousness of this Injury, and the Indig­nity with which you treat your God, and your Creator?Nescitis, quia Templum Dei estis, & Spiri­tus Dei habi­tat in vobis. 1 Cor. 3. Your Soul is made to be the Temple and Dwelling of God, and you will not allow it him, till after you [Page 28]have a long time prostituted it to the Devil for his Retiring-place, and after you have defil'd it with a vast number of Crimes. All your Life ought to be Consecrated to the Service of God, and you will Employ the first and better Part in the Service of the Devil, reserving to God only that which would be no more useful to Sin. Can there be an Indignity equal to this? What would you say of a Man that would Serve up to the Table of a Prince, nothing but the Remainders and Scraps of Dogs, and Swines-meat? This you would say were horrible; and have not you a hor­ror for the same thing, which you per­form far more criminally towards God, keeping for his Service only the Remain­ders of your Passions, which you have brutishly satisfy'd during your Youth? Is not this a horrible Affront you offer to God?Offertis super altari meo pa­nem pollu­tum. Mal. 1. If God complain'd so much of those of the Old Law, because they Of­fer'd upon his Altar profane and unclean Bread; what Complaints will he not make of you, who shall Offer unto him only the Remnant of your Life, defil'd with all sort of Impurity? If he lays a Curse upon him who retains the better Part for himself, and Presents the worst to him in Sacrifice;Maledictus dolosus qui habet in gre­ge suo mascu­lum, & votum faciens immo­lat debile Do­mino. Ibid. Cursed (says he) is the Deceiver, who chuseth the Lame to make an Offering of it to God; What Maledicti­ons ought not you to stand in dread of, you who not only Sacrifice to him the worst, but make it your Design to give [Page 29]him nothing but the remainder of what hath serv'd to the Pleasure and Disorder of your Youth? I would to God we had not seen so many Effects of this Curse of God upon many young People, as we take no­tice of every Day, by dreadful Accidents, sudden Deaths, rejecting of God, obdu­rateness in Vice, and many other Misfor­tunes, which are the Effects of Thy just Choler, O Almighty God! by which Thou daily Punishest those who offer Thee this Injury, who forget Thee in their Youth to follow their wicked Inclinations, and who would not Serve Thee but after they had Serv'd Sin, their Passions, and the Devil.

How God hath an Aversion for wicked young People. Considerable Examples upon this Subject.

AFTER what we have said,Sixth Conside­ration, the An­ger of God a­gainst vicious young Persons. there is no need of Proving this Proposition, which is a necessary Consequence from the Three former: For how can it be but that God should have an extream Aversion for those, who contemn the Ho­nour he does them, in particularly desiring their Service; who are not mov'd with the Love he bears them, and who on the contrary treat him with so much Indig­nity and Contempt as we have shewn? [Page 30]God hath an Aversion for all Sinners, as he himself hath said;Odio sunt Deo impius & impietas ejus. Sap. 14. Aversor Impium, I detest the Wicked. But this Aversion is greatest against those, to whom he hath testify'd most Love and Benevolence, and who unworthily abuse it. Love offended is chang'd into Indignation, and Bounty contemn'd and ill treated, becomes a mer­ciless Fury.

That this is so, besides these Reasons which clearly demonstrate it, Experience makes it appear with undoubted Certain­ty, by the Effects which God frequently shews, of that Aversion he hath for vici­ous young People. I shall recount here Four very notable Examples, all taken out of the Sacred Scripture, that no one may doubt of them, and that from these one may give a Judgment of others.

The First Example is of the Two Chil­dren of Judas the Son of the Patriarch Jacob. This Man had Seven Children, the Two elder whereof were Wicked and Vicious. Behold what the Scripture saith of the First,Gen. 38. whose Name was Her; Fuit quoque Her nequam in conspectu Domini & ab eo occisus est. Her, the eldest Son of Judas, was wicked in the sight of God, and his Life was taken away by him. And imme­diately after it is said of the Second, nam'd Onan, that God struck him with Death, for a Sin of Impurity which he had committed, which the Scripture in that place calls Detestable. Idcirco per­cussit eum Dominus eo quod rem detestabilem [Page 31]faceret; God struck him with Death, because he had done a detestable Action. This Sin, altho' detested by God himself, and cha­stis'd with so Exemplary a Punishment, by a deplorable Misfortune, is but too common amongst Youth, upon which it draws the Divine Indignation either vi­sibly or invisibly.

The Second Example is of the Two Children of the High Priest Heli, 1 Reg. 3. & 4. call'd Ophni and Phinees. These Two young Men were Employ'd by their Father in the Ministry of the Temple and Sacrifices, wherein they behav'd themselves very ill, committing great Irrevrences in the Temple, and high Injustices towards the Faithful, who came to Offer their Sacri­fices to God, requiring from them, by an insatiable Avarice, more than justly was their due: Insomuch that the Sacred Scri­pture says that they were thePorro filii Heli filii Be­lial, nescientes Dominum. Children of Belial; so it calls those whom it would signifie to be very wicked, and absolutely ruin'd: For Belial is as much as to say, Absque jugo, having lost the Fear of God, and the remembrance of their Duty; and it adds that theirErat ergo peccatum pu­erorum gran­de nimis co­ram Domino. Sin was very enormous in the sight of God. Their Iniquity drew upon them so great an Indignation of God, that he sent by aVidebis ae­mulum tuum in Templo, in universis pros­peris Israel, & non erit senex in domo tua omnibus diebus, pars magna domus tuae morietur cum ad viri­lem aetatem venerit. Prophet to tell the Father, too negligent in Correct­ing his Children, That he would take a Revenge which should serve as an Exam­ple to all Posterity; That he would ex­clude his Family from the High Priest­hood [Page 32]to give to another; That the great­est part of his Offspring should die in the Flower of their Youth, and should not arrive at a perfect Age; And that his two Sons, Ophni and Phinees should die both in one Day, and that all their Race shouldJuravi do­mui Heli quod non expietur iniquitas do­mus ejus, vi­ctimis & mu­neribus usque in aeternum. bear for ever the Marks of their Iniquity, which should never be Expiated by Victims and Sacrifices.

All this happen'd as he had foretold. A little while after Ophni and Phinees were kill'd in a Defeat of the Philistians. On the same Day the Father hearing the News of their Death, fell down back­ward, broke his Head, and dy'd upon the Place. Many other Misfortunes happen'd that Day, and amongst others, the Ark of the Testament was taken by the Ene­mies; And all the rest of the Prediction was fulfill'd a little after.

The Third Example is of Amnon, 2 Reg. 13. the eldest Son of David. The Scripture re­counts but one wicked Action of his, yet one so black and detestable, that it neces­sarily supposes many others; it being cer­tain, that a Man never ascends on a suddain to the height of Impiety, and that great Crimes are the Effect of a Soul abandon'd by God for her precedent Sins. This young Prince having permitted his Heart to be overcome with unchast Love, lets himself be carry'd away in such a manner, that this brutish Passion, which ordinarily moves to heinous Extremities, and enor­mous Crimes, making him lose the most [Page 33]inviolable Laws of Nature, excited him to love unchastly his own Sister; whereupon, when he could not obtain her Consent to such an abominable Proposal, he adds Force to Passion, committing in one only Action two most enormous Crimes, Vio­lence and Incest.

But the Divine Justice did not wait long, before it made appear what a Horror it had for the Crimes and wicked Life of this young Prince: For, two Years after he was kill'd by his own Brother Absolom, who had conceal'd this Revenge in his Heart all that time. O God, how terri­ble are thy Judgments!

The Fourth, which is of Absolom, 2 Reg. 13 & 14. the Third Son of David, who was no better than his Brother Amnon. He had a proud, dissembling, revengeful, and highly am­bitious Mind, having a mighty Esteem for himself, and his own Beauty, which by report of Scripture was extraordinary. The first wicked Action which the Scri­pture relates of him, but which must needs have been preceded by many others, is the Murther of his Brother Amnon, which was an abominable Crime. For this Action he was cast out of his Father's Favour, and banish'd from him for the space of five Years, after which he was recall'd, and admitted to his Favour again. He was scarce return'd to his Father's Court, when he begins to devise a famous Rebel­lion against him: And having by his Ad­dresses gain'd the Affection of the People, [Page 34]he departs to a little Village, where he causes himself to be Proclaim'd King. After this he takes up Arms against his Father, constrains him to fly from the City of Jerusalem, and pursues him with a strong Army, which he had rais'd to de­prive him of his Crown. What will the Divine Justice do here? Will it be in­sensible of the Wrongs of such a degene­rate Child? Hearken, Theotime, to what the Sacred Scripture relates. David see­ing himself brought to such Straits by his Son, was oblig'd to make Head against him, and oppose him. He sets in order the small Forces he had with him, sends them to Fight, gives him Battel. Abso­lom's Men, tho' far more in number, are Defeated.

In this Discomfiture (O the Divine Judgments!) it happens that Absolom endeavouring to save himself by Flight, was carry'd under a great Oak, and as he wore his Locks very long, his Hair by a strange Accident, and particular Permis­sion of God, was so strongly entangl'd in the Branches of the Tree, that the Mule he rode on could not carry him away, but continuing his Course, left him hanging by the Head, without being able to disengage himself. David's Soldiers seeing him in this Condition, came and ran him thro' with a Lance, and kill'd him immediately, altho' David by an incredible Bounty, send­ing them to the Battel, had expresly for­bidden them to offer any hurt to his Person.

O Divine Justice! Thou shewest most clearly that Thou dost not wink at the Iniquities of wicked Children; and altho' Thou deferrest for a time the Chastise­ment they deserve, to give them leisure to Repent, Thou afterwards punishest most severely their Obstinacy in Sin, and the Affront they offer to Thy Goodness, with which Thou expectest their Repen­tance.

Behold, Four Examples out of the Sa­cred Scripture, which evidently manifest how God hath an Aversion for vicious young People; The same Scripture might furnish us with many others. Ancient Histories are all full, and daily Experi­ence produces but too many Examples in these Times.

Take notice of one thing worthy of Consideration;An important Remark. That in the Four prece­dent Examples are contain'd Three forts of Sins, which render young People par­ticularly odious to God, and which are the most ordinary Causes of their Ruine. In the First and Third, the Sin of Impu­rity. In the Second, the Contempt of Re­ligion and Holy Things; to which may be referr'd the Abuse of Ecclesiastical Be­nefices by young Incumbents, who many times draw upon themselves and their Families, the Divine Malediction. In the Fourth, the Contempt of Parents, and Rebellion against Fatherly Authority.

That Salvation ordinarily depends on the Time of Youth.

WHAT we have said in the Four last Chapters,Seventh most important Mo­tive which ob­liges young Peo­ple to Vertue. hath discover'd unto you the Obligation you have to Serve God in your Youth, by the Respect you owe to the Desire he hath thereof, and for the Love he bears you. A Respect which you cannot resist, without offering him a most heinous Injury, and incurring his Aversion and Displeasure. Now I would make you know the same Obliga­tion by the Interest of your Salvation, and shew you clearly, that your Salvation hath an extreme, and almost entire dependance on the Life you lead during your Youth.

I would to God, Theotime, you, and all those of your Age, would comprehend well, and never forget this Truth, which is unknown to the greatest part of Men, the ignorance whereof causes the Ruine and Damnation of many. I wish all Men understood, that the immense Eternity of Happiness or Misery, which expects them after this Life, depends upon this first Time, which all the World despises, and which the most part employs wickedly.

To convince you of this Verity, I shall produce the Sentiment of the Sacred Scri­pture, that is, of the Holy Ghost himself, who brings such express Testimonies, that it is impossible to doubt of it.

For why doth it in so many places advertise young People to think of their Salvation betimes, and to apply them­selves to Vertue in their Youth, except it were to shew, that that Time is a Time of great Importance for their Sal­vation?

Why doth it say in Ecclesiastes Memento Creatoris tui in diebus ju­ventutis tuae, antequam ve­niat tempus afflictionis. Eccles. 12. Re­member your Creator in the days of your Youth, before the Time of Afflictions com [...], and the sad and discomfortable Years ap­proach? From whence comes it, that it assures us in the Proverbs, That the Adolescens juxta viam su­am etiam se­nuerit, non recedet ab ea. Prov. 12. young Man shall continue even until his old Age in the Way he has once enter'd; that is, the manner of Life which he has begun? Wherefore doth it say by the Prophet Jeremy, That it is Bonum est homini cum portaverit ju­gum ab ado­lescentia sua. Thren. 3. good for a Man to carry his Yoke from his Youth; that is, to addict himself to Vertue, and to bear the pleasing Yoke of Gods Command­ments?

Why in Ecclesiasticus doth it exhort young People so powerfully to Vertue, by those excellent Words, able to win the most insensible Hearts? Son, Fili, à juven­tute tua acci­pe doctrinam, & usque ad canos invenies sapientiam, quasi is qui a­rat & semi­nat, accede ad eam, & sustine bonos fructus illius: in ope­re enim illius paululum la­borabis, & ci­to edes de ge­nerationibus illius. Quam aspera est ni­mium sapien­tiae indoctis hominibus, & non permanebit in illa excors. Quibus autem cog­nita est, permanet usque ad conspectum Dei. Eccl. 6. receive In­structions from your Youth, and you shall find Wisdom even to the end of your Life: Ap­proach unto it as he who would Cultivate the Earth, that is, with Care and Labour, and expect the pleasing Fruit which it will bring you. You will labour a little to obtain it, but soon after you will tast of its admirable Fruits. 'Tis true, Vertue is hard and difficult, but it is only to those who are insensible and vicious. [Page 38]But those who have once known it well, find it pleasing, and never part with it any more, and it will continue with them even to the last ac­complishment of their Salvation in Eternal Glory. And all the rest of that Chapter is but a continual Exhortation to young People to become Vertuous.

Wherefore in the Twenty fifth Chapter doth it say,Quae in juven­tute tua non congregasti quomodo in senectute tua invenies? Eccl. 25. That it is impossible to find in old Age, what was not laid up in Youth?

And Lastly, Amongst the Books of Sacred Scripture, why was there one ex­presly made for the Instruction of Youth, which is that of Proverbs? Doth not all this manifestly discover that the Holy Ghost would give Men to understand, that the Time of Youth is of extream Conse­quence, and the greatest Part esteem it not: And that all Happiness and Misfor­tune of Men, whether in this Life or in the next, depends ordinarily on that Time well or ill bestow'd; It being commonly most certain, that those obtain their Sal­vation, who in their Youth are bred up in the Fear of God, and Observation of his Commandments; And that those who have not been Educated in that Fear of God, or who cast it from before their Eyes, to follow Sin with more Liberty, do misfor­tunately Perish.

All this Truth is rais'd from those Two Foundations, whereof the First is, That [Page 39]those who have follow'd Vertue in their Youth, continue easily therein all the re­mainder of their Life. And the Second, That on the contrary, those who have given themselves over to Sin, at that time do very hardly correct themselves, and most frequently are never withdrawn. We shall discover these two Truths more amply in the following Chapters.

That those who have follow'd Vertue in their Youth, conserve it easily all the remainder of their Life.

EXperience makes this Proposition so evident,Eighth Mo­tive. that it is accounted a thing most certain in the Sentiment of the Sa­cred Scripture and understanding Men. To make you more sensible of it, I shall discover unto you the Reasons thereof, re­lying upon both those Authorities.

The First is, That Habits gotten in Youth, are conserv'd a long time, and are not easily lost.

This is clear in the Holy Scripture.Prov. 22. The young Man will not leave in his old Age, the manner of Living he hath once begun, that is, very rarely. It is incredible how pow­erful the first Impressions are, and how deeply the first Habits are rooted in young Souls. The first Impressions of young Minds [Page 40](saith S. Jerom) are very hardly defaced; S. Jero. Epist. ad Laet. Difficulter eraditur quod rudes animi perbiberunt: lanarum con­chylia quis in pristinum can­dorem revo­cet? recens testa diu & sa­porem retinet & odorem quo primum im­buta est. Wooll which hath once taken its first Tin­cture, doth not easily lose it to return to its former Candor; And an Earthen Vessel keeps long the Smell and Tast of that Liquor wherewith it was first Season'd. For this Reason the Scripture says,Thren. 3. That it is good, that is to say, very important, for a Man to addict himself to Vertue in his Youth; Because having acquir'd it in that Time, it is easily conserv'd the remainder of ones Life: As it says in that other place,Eccl. 6. Receive Instruction in your Youth, and you shall find Wisdom even unto the end of your Life.

S. Bernard says,S. Bern. lib. De ordi. vitae. Multi senes diu viventes, & nihil profi­cientes, quia nullas sibi in opportuno tempore divi­tias congre­garunt. That we need not seek any other Causes why we see so many old Men full of Vices, and destitute of all sorts of Vertues, but because they acquir'd them not in their Youth, which is the pro­per Time for it.Senectus eo­rum qui ado­lescentiam su­am honestis artibus instru­kerunt, & in lege Domini meditati sunt, aetate fit doctior, usu certior, processu temporis sapientior, & veterum studiorum dul­ [...]issimos fructus metit. Jerom. Epist. ad Nepot. And S. Jerom descri­bing the excellent Qualities of the old Age of those who apply'd themselves to Vertue in their Youth, saith, That they become more Knowing by their Age, more Assur'd by Experience, more Discreet by the Process of Time, and gather the agreeable Fruits of the ancient Labours of their Youth.

The Second Reason is, because Youth is the Time of most violent Temptations, which being overcome, we easily sur­mount all others.

The Temptations of Pleasure are with­out question the most violent;Inter omnia Christiano­rum certami­na, duriora sunt praelia castitatis, ubi quotidiana pugna, & rara victoria. S. Aug. Serm. 250. de temp. Quem tor­menta non vi­cerant, super­abat voluptas. Jer. in vit. Paulin. they some­times conquer those whom Torments could not overcome. Now altho' these Temptations are common to all Ages, yet nevertheless it is most certain, that they are ordinarily more strong and frequent in Youth, which, asAdolescen­tia multa corporis bella sustinet, & inter incentiva vitiorum, & carnis titillationes quasi ignis in lignis viridibus suffocatur. S. Jerom. Epist. ad Nepot. S. Jerom says, is a continual Combat of Chastity; and be­ing environ'd with the Occasions of Sin, and urg'd by the Provocations of the Flesh, it suffers very much to conserve its Purity, like Fire that is almost choak'd with green Wood heap'd upon it.

But when by the Succours of Divine Grace, which, as we have shewn above, are greater and more abundant in Youth, as the Temptations are more frequent and impetuous, one has gain'd the Victory in these first Encounters, it happens soon after, that with less difficulty he surmounts all the others which are to be undergone the whole Course of his Life,Militia est vi­ta hominis su­per terram. Job 7. which ac­cording to Sacred Scripture, is a perpe­tual Combat.

The Reason is, Because Temptations diminish according to the proportion that they are overcome; Divine Grace encrea­ses,Habenti dabi­tur & abund­dabit. Mat. 25. by how much better use is made of it; and a Heart accustom'd to conquer, yields not easily, since it daily acquires new For­ces [Page 42]by its Victories. Sampson being Exer­cised by Fighting with a Lion, became un­conquerable by his Enemies; And David having in his Youth surmounted Lions and Bears, he afterwards, tho' but yet young, overthrew the Giant Goliah, the Terror of the Host of Israel, and was never over­come after in all the Battels he was En­gag'd in.

O dear Theotime, if you knew the Re­pose, and Tranquillity they enjoy, who have behav'd themselves gallantly in the Combats of their Youth, the desire of par­taking of that Sweetness would power­fully encourage you to resist them with all your vigour! Learn it from the Holy Ghost by the Mouth of the Wise-man: Son, Investiga il­lam & mani­festabitur ti­bi: & conti­nens factus ne derelinquas eam: in novis­simis enim in­venies requi­em in ea, & convertetur tibi in oble­ctationem, & erunt tibi compedes ejus in protectionem fortitudi­nis, & bases virtutis. Eccl. 6. says he, seek Wisdom, and you shall find her; and when you have found her, never part with her; you will find in her the Repose of your whole Life; And after some Trouble she may have given you, she will be chang'd into Contentment and Joy; Her Chains by which she will bind you to the Service of God, will serve as a powerful Protection, and a solid Ground-work to raise Vertue on.

I adjoyn the Third Reason, which is, That God augments his Graces, and mul­tiplies his Benedictions upon those who have happily conquer'd in their Youths, to conserve them in the good Path they were entred into by his Grace.

I cannot manifest this Truth unto you better, than by producing the Assurance which God himself gives you in the Sa­cred Scripture. Our Lord, says the Wise­man,Dominus dat sapientiam, & ex ore ejus scientia & prudentia, cu­stodit recto­rum salutem, & protegit gradientes simpliciter. servans semi­tas justitiae & vias sancto­rum custodi­ens. Ibid. gives Wisdom, and from his Mouth issues Prudence and Science. And he not only giveth her, but takes care to con­serve her; for it is he who guards the Sal­vation of the Just, and protects those who walk in Vertue. He adds afterwards,Si intraverit sapientia cor tuum, & sci­entia animae tuae placuerit, consilium custodiet te, & prudentia servabit te, ut eruaris à via mala, & ab homine qui perversa loquitur, &c. ut eruaris à muliere extranea, quae mollit sermones suos, &c. ut am­bules in via bona & calles justorum custodias. Son, if Wisdom enter into your Heart, and Science please you, he speaks of the Science of Ver­tue, Counsel and Prudence will preserve you, delivering you from the Road of Vice, from the Company of the Wicked, and from the Enticements of immodest Women, maintain­ing you in the Path of Vertue, and in the Way of the Just.

There are a great number of like Pas­sages in Sacred Scripture, which assure us of that singular Protection and Assi­stance of God towards those who follow Vertue in their Youth, and it is easie to confirm them by Examples of the same Scripture.

Proofs concerning the same Subject by notable Examples, taken out of Sacred Scripture, of those who having been Vertuous in their Youth, have continu'd so all their Life; and chiefly of those who have resisted in great Occasions.

THE First Example I shall produce,First Example, of Joseph. Gen. 37. is that of Joseph, who was the Model of Vertue in his Youth. He being but Six Years of Age, hated Vice in such a manner, that the wicked Example of his Brothers could never corrupt his Innocence; and on the contrary, not being able to endure their bad Deportment, he gave notice thereof to his Father Jacob. The great­ness of his Vertue, for which he was singu­larly favour'd by God, and tenderly lov'd by his Father, procur'd him the Enmity of his Brothers, even to such a height, that they sought nothing less than totally to destroy him. Having been one Day wandring in the Fields, they conspir'd to­gether to murther him; but having a hor­ror to dip their Hands in his Blood, they resolv'd to let him down into an old Ci­stern, with intent to permit him there to die. This poor Child not being able to overcome the Cruelty of his Brothers by his Prayers and Tears, was constrain'd to suffer it, putting all his Confidence in God, who never deserts those who love him. [Page 45]In this he was not deceiv'd; for his inhu­mane Brothers mov'd with the horror of so barbarous a Crime, chang'd their first Resolution, and drawing their Brother out of the Cistern, resolv'd to sell him to Merchants, who then passed by; these carry'd him into Egypt, where he was sold to a Lord of that Country. Joseph being with his Lord, continu'd in his first Vertue, living in a perfect Innocence, by which he brought with him the Blessing of God upon the House of his Master, who soon understood his Merit, and took a great Affection to him.

Behold how Joseph spent the first part of his Youth, that is, until the Age of Twenty or Two and twenty years; and see what follows after that, and how he passes the rest of his Life; wherein I take notice of Three remarkable Occasi­ons, where his Vertue was powerfully try'd.

The First was about that Age where he receiv'd the most violent Attack that Cha­stity was ever able to undergo,Gen. 39. being solicited by hy his Masters Wise, to con­sent to a detestable Adultery; but the Fear of God wherein he had been bred up, gave him such a horror of that Crime, that all the Prosecution and Violence of that unchast Woman, could never stagger his Chastity, who since has serv'd as an Ex­ample to all Ages.

From this Temptation he fell into ano­ther greater: For this wicked Woman [Page 46]not being able to compass her impious Design, accuseth him for having attempt­ed her Chastity, imposing falsly upon him the Crime which she her self was guilty of. The Master provok'd with this Report, caus'd him to be bound and cast into Pri­son, where he continu'd until he was of the Age of Thirty years. This was a rude Temptation, and a Shock that might easily have overturn'd a Vertue of no long stand­ing; to be accus'd and counted guilty of a Crime which he abominated, and to suf­fer Punishment for it as if he had com­mitted it. But Joseph continues immove­able in his first Vertue; and as he had learn'd Patience in his Youth by the Per­secution of his Brothers, he suffer'd this with an admirable Meekness, comforting himself in the satisfaction of his Innocence, of which he had God for Witness and Protector: And God, who had always been with him, leaves him not on this Oc­casion; but as the Sacred Scripture says,Descendit­que cum illo in foveam & in vinculis non dereliquit eum, donec afferret illi Sceptrum reg­ni. Sap. 15. he descended with him into the Cistern, assisting him with his Grace, and wonder­fully delivering him as he did presently after.

To these two Trials succeeds the Third, yet greater. This was the high Prospe­rity to which he was rais'd: For having Interpreted Pharaoh's Dream by the Knowledge God gave him of Things to come,Gen. 41. this King not only delivers him out of Prison, but makes him the Chiefest of all his Kingdom, over which he gave [Page 47]him a general Charge, with an absolute Power to dispose of all things according to his Will, and with a Command to all his Subjects to Obey him as himself. In this high Degree of Fortune, which ordi­narily dazles Mens Eyes, and where mean Vertues are lost and quickly ruin'd, Joseph remains firm in his former Vertue always like himself. The forgetfulness of God, Pride, Covetousness, Revenge, which are accustom'd to attend upon high Fortunes, could never prevail upon his Mind. Having occasion to revenge himself of his Brothers, who came into Egypt to make their Provi­sion during a severe Famine, he not only refuses to do it, but receives them with such Tenderness, and Testimonies of Af­fection as draw Tears from those who read the Account the Scripture gives of it. He governs himself in his Charge with so much Justice,Gen. 45. that never any made Complaint of his Conduct; And on the contrary, the Egyptians did Honoura­bly acknowledge him for their Deliverer being freed from Want during a Seven-years Famine, by his eminent Prudence, which purchas'd for him in those Coun­tries, the Name of The Saviour of the World. He persever'd thus in Vertue and Fear of God, in the midst of his Gran­deurs, from the Age of Thirty, when he was rais'd to that Fortune, even to the Age of an Hundred and ten, where­in he dy'd. O Theotime, reflect well upon this Example, and learn from it, what, [Page 48]a Vertue acquir'd in Youth is able to do.

I should content my self with this Ex­ample, if that which follows were not also admirable to discover the same Ve­rity. It is of Toby, the Father of young Toby, of whom the Scripture reports things full of Admiration, which he per­form'd first in his Youth, and afterwards in the remainder of his Life. See what it says.

Toby was a young Man of the Tribe, and City of Nephthali; Second Exam­ple, of Toby, Tob. 2. Cumque esset Junior omni­bus in tribu Nephthali: ni­hil tamen Pu­erile gessit in opere. Deni­que cum irent omnes ad vi­tulos aureos. quos Jerobo­am fecerat Rex Israel, Hic solus fugi­ebat consor­tium omnium & pergebat in Jerusalem ad Templum Domini, & ibi adorabat Dominum Deum Israel, omnia primitiva sua, & decimas suas fideliter offerens. Haec & his similia secundum legem Dei puerilus observabat. and altho' he were the youngest of all those of his Tribe, yet nothing of Youth or Childish­ness appeard in his Actions. And when all others went to Sacrifice to the Golden Calf of Jeroboam King of Israel, he alone flying the Company of them, went to Je­rusalem to the Temple of God, and there Ador'd the God of Israel, Offering to him faithfully all his First-fruits and Tenths. He perform'd these things, adds the Scri­pture, and many other such like, according to the Law of God, being yet very young.

O the admirable Life, Theotime, of a young Man, who acted nothing Childish, that is, nothing contrary to Vertue; who permitted not himself to be carry'd away by the Torrent of ill Example, continuing [Page 49]in the Service of God, when all others withdrew themselves from it. A Youth spent so vertuously, could not but be fol­low'd by a perfect and a Saintly Life, as you shall see.

Toby being come to Mans Age,In captivitate positus viam veritatis non deseruit. was sent into Captivity by the Assyrians, with all his Country-men, to the City of Ninive: Being there, he departed not from the Path of Vertue which he had so happily enter'd in his Youth.

For First,Et cum ede­rent ex cibis Gentilium, Ipse custodivit animam suam & nunquam contaminatus est in escis eo­rum. As he had learn'd in his Youth to resist the wicked Examples of others, he permitted not himself to be corrupted in his Captivity by the Exam­ple of his Country-men, who eat licenti­ously the Meat of Gentiles, which the Law of God forbad them.

Secondly, Having receiv'd from the King of the Assyrians, whose special Fa­vour he had gain'd by the reputation of his Vertue, Permission to go freely thro' all his Kingdom, he went to Visit all those who were in Captivity,Pergebat er­gò ad omnes qui erant in captivitate & monita Salu­tis dabat eis. and gave them Admonishments concerning their Salva­tion, Exhorting them to continue faith­fully in the Service of God.

Thirdly, The Affliction of the Ca­ptiv'd Israelites being become more severe, he daily went to Visit and Comfort them, Distributed amongst them what he was able to give them, Fed the Hungry, Cloth'd the Naked, and had a particular Care, with an unparallell'd Charity to Bury all the Dead he found, notwithstanding the [Page 50]Displeasure of the King, which he had in­curr'd by that Action, even to the danger of his Life. But what is yet more ad­mirable, is the Patience with which he endur'd the most sensible Affliction of Blindness, which befell him by an unex­pected Accident in the Fifty sixth Year of his Age. One Day as he return'd to his House, weary'd with the Burial of many Dead, he chanc'd to fall asleep under a Wall, from the top whereof the Dung out of a Swallows Nest fell upon his Eyes, and took away his Sight. This was doubtless a very great Affliction, and a most rigo­rous Trial; but he supported it with so admirable a Patience, that the Sacred Scripture compares it to that of Job: And that which is most considerable is, that it attributed the Cause thereof to the Piety and Fear of God wherein he had liv'd in his Youth. Behold what it says;Hanc autem tentationem ideo permisit Deus evenire illi, ut posteris daretur exem­plum patien­tiae ejus sicut & sancti Job: Nam cum ab insantia sua semper Deum timuerit, & mandata ejus custodierit, non est con­tristatus con­tra Deum, quod plaga caecitatis eve­nerit ei; sed immobilis in Dei timore permansit, agens gratias Deo omnibus diebus vitae suae. Now God permitted that this Temptation should be­fall him, to give to Posterity an Example of his Patience, as of that of holy Job: For whereas he always feared God from his Youth, and kept his Commandments, he complain'd not against God for the Affliction of Blind­ness which he sent him, but continu'd immove­able in the Fear of God, giving him Thanks all the Days of his Life. O how admira­ble is the Effect of a Vertue which hath always increas'd with Age!Sexa­genarius lumen recepit; reliquum vero vitae in gaudio fuit; & cum bono profactu timoris Dei porrexit in pace. Tob. 14. He was de­liver'd [Page 51]from that Affliction Four Years af­ter, and liv'd to the Age of 110, when he dy'd in peace, after he had made, as the Scripture takes notice, a continual Progress in the Fear and Service of God. Thus, Theotime, do they Live, thus do they Die, who have spent their Life vertuously in their Youth.

I cannot finish this Chapter,Third Exam­ple, of Elea­zar. which is already too long, without bringing a Third Example in the Person of that great Martyr of the Old Testament, Eleazar, 2 Machab. 6. He was an ancient Man, very Venerable for the number of his Years, but yet more for his Vertue wherein he had liv'd from his Infancy. When King Antiochus Per­secuted the Jews, to make them Renounce their Religion, and the Adoration of the true God, this holy Man was Apprehend­ed to be constrain'd thereto by force of Torments, which could never make his an­cient Piety to stagger. And when some of the Standers by exhorted him to obey the Persecutor, at least in exterior shew and appearance to free himself from the Tor­ture; The Scripture saith, that he took into Consideration the Dignity of his Age,At ille cogita­re caepit aeta­tis ac senectu­tis suae emi­nentiam dig­nam & inge­nitae nobilita­tis canitiem, atque à puero optimae con­versationis actus. which was grown gray in Vertue, not ha­ving committed any thing yet unworthy of his Extraction, and of a true Son of Abra­ham, and the Religious Life he had led from his Infancy; and having reflected on these things, he immediately Answer'd with an invincible Courage, That he would ra­ther Die, than consent to such a criminal [Page 52]Action: And presently his Torments were redoubled, and he suffer'd Death with an incredible Patience.

Learn, dear Theotime, from this Exam­ple and the precedent, what a Vertue ac­quir'd in Youth is able to do, when setled by a continual Exercise of good Actions; and labour to be such now, as you would wish to be all the remainder of your Life.

That those who have been addicted to Vice in their Youth, are very difficultly Corrected, and it often happens that they never Amend, but miserably Damn themselves.

O Theotime, Ninth Motive, the great Im­portance of Li­ving well du­ring Youth. that I had a Pen that were able to Engrave this important Truth more deeply in your Heart than in Brass or Marble, and make you perfectly comprehend the great and dreadful Diffi­culty with which he Corrects himself who hath led a wicked Life in his Youth.

A Difficulty so great, that it is almost impossible sufficiently to express it; and on the other side so general, that we cannot consider it attentively, without being touch'd with a lively Sorrow, seeing so vast a number of Christians, and principally of young People, who grone under the tyranny of a vicious Habit, which being contracted in their Youth, and increas'd with Age, leads them to Perdition; from [Page 53]whence if it chance they recover, it is with incredible Pains and Combats, and by a manifest Miracle of Divine Grace. Learn, O dear Theotime, to avoid this Danger, and endeavour to comprehend the greatness, either entirely to prevent it, or quickly to withdraw your self, if you be already engag'd therein.

This so great a Difficulty springs from three Causes. The First is the incredible Power and Force of a wicked Habit, which being once rooted in the Soul, cannot be pluckt up but with great trouble. All Ha­bits have commonly this Quality, that they continue a long time, and are very hardly destroy'd. But amongst others, wicked Habits are such as adhere more strongly, and are not so easily chang'd: Because it is far more difficult to corrupt Nature to raise it self to Good, than to do Evil. Hence it comes that the Scripture says,Perversi [...] cilè corrige [...]tur, & [...] rum infinitus est numerus. Eccles. 1. That the Wicked are hardly Corrected, which makes the number of Fools, that is, of Sinners, to be infinite.

But amongst wicked Habits, those which are contracted in Youth are the strongest, and with most difficulty overcome: For the Passions, which are the Instruments of Vice, not being moderated in that Time by Vertue, encrease with Age, and encrea­sing, augment and fortifie Vice, giving it daily new Forces, which render it at length unconquerable.

For this Reason the same Scripture ha­ving a Mind to express the force of a [Page 54]vicious Habit, contracted in younger Years, delivers a Sentence which young People ought to have frequently before their Eyes.Job 20. Ossa ejus implebuntur vitiis adolescentiae ejus, & cum eo in pulvere dor­mient; The Wicked shall be fill'd with Vices from his Youth, and they will follow him to his Grave: That is, the Vices and ill Inclina­tions of Youth become so deeply and strongly rooted in the Soul, that all the remainder of his Life is sensible of them, and opprest with them, and they conti­nue even until Death, as we daily see.

And the Cause thereof is very evident; for Vice which has once gotten possession of a Soul, encreases and strengthens the Passions; the Passions corrupt the Judg­ment, and make it conceive that Good which is Evil, esteem Evil that which is Good: The Judgment perverted corrupts the Will, which is carry'd blindly to Sin, and from thence proceeds all the remain­der of Wickedness; because, as S. Augustin says,Ex volunta­te perversa facta est libi­do, & dum ser­vitur libidini, facta est con­suetudo, & dum consue­tudini non re­fistitur, facta est necessitas. Aug. lib. 8. Confes. cap. 3. The Will deprav'd, settles its Affe­ction, and takes Pleasure in Ill. Pleasure produceth a Custom, and a Custom not resisted, becomes a Necessity. And when a Soul is arriv'd at this Point, she is out of hopes of Amendment; because as another Au­thor adds,Actio consuetudinem parit, consue­tudo necessitatem, necessitas mortem. S. Isid. Necessity is the Mother of Death.

The Second Cause of this great Diffi­culty, is the Diminution of the Divine Grace: For as God augments his Favours to those that humbly receive them, and make use of them for their Salvation; so he diminisheth them to those who abuse and contemn them. Now if he treat Men in this manner, it seems that he more or­dinarily deals so with young Men; on whom as he bestows many Favours when they worthily dispose themselves, as we have said above, so he withdraws his Kind­nesses from them when they abuse them, as we have made appear by the Experi­ence of those, who having been favour'd with particular Obligations from God in their Youth, are presently after sensible of a great diminution of those Favours, occasion'd by the ill use they have made of them.

God himself threatens this by a Pro­phet, when he speaks thus;In illa die deficient ado­lescentes in siti qui jurant in delicto Sa­mariae. Young Peo­ple shall perish with Thirst, who Swear in the Sin of Samaria: That is, who make Pro­fession of Adoring the Idols which the City of Samaria Adores. This Thirst is not only a Corporeal, but a Spiritual Thirst, and the want of Divine Grace, of which it is spoken immediately before.Mittam fa­mem in ter­ram, non fa­mem panis neque sitim aquae, sed au­diendi ver­bum Dei. I will send a Famine upon the Earth, not a Famine of Bread, nor a Drought of Water, but of the Word of God.

The Third Cause is the Power and Do­minion of the Devil, which is enlarg'd ac­cording to the measure that vicious Ha­bits [Page 56]are encreas'd, Sins multiply'd, and Divine Favours diminisht. It is the pro­per Effect of Sin, which making a Soul lose the Grace and Protection of her Crea­tor, to subject her to the Dominion of the Devil, and engage her more and more in that misfortunate Slavery, according to the proportion that she continues in Vice. O Theotime! who can sufficiently express the deplorable State of a Soul reduc'd to that Servitude, under the Tyranny of her mortal Enemy, who employs all his En­gines and Devices to destroy her without recovery; suggesting all the Temptati­ons to her, which might move her unto Sin; furnishing her daily with new Occasions of Destruction, diverting her from those that might withdraw her from Disorder, cast­ing her headlong from Sin to Sin, from one Vice to another, until such time that her Iniquities being come to a Head, she by the utmost Effect of the Divine Choler, is a­bandon'd to her Eternal Perdition.

Thus doth this cruel Enemy treat those whom he hath under his Power, and that by a just Permission of God, who rejects in this manner those who withdraw them­selves from his Service and Friendship, and who refusing to submit themselves to his Commands, and to the plenty of his Favours and Benedictions, most justly me­rited to be abandon'd to that cruel Master, who breaths nothing but their Destructi­on, and will neverServietis diis alienis die ac nocte qui non da­bunt vobis re­quiem. Jerem. 66. cease to persecute them, till he hath precipitated them into [Page 57]Eternal Damnation. O Theotime, how misfortunate are all those who are faln into this deplorable Slavery! but yet more miserable those, who being engag'd therein, think not of sighing after their Deliverance.

Examples upon the precedent Subject; And First of those who have Corrected the Vi­ces of their Youth, but yet with very great Difficulties.

IF this Truth be made manifest by Rea­son, it is yet more certain by Experi­ence, which might furnish us with as ma­ny Examples thereof, as there were ever Persons who follow'd Vice in their Youth, and by the Divine Mercy were recall'd from it. I shall content my self to pro­duce one of the most considerable, which is that of St. Augustin. The Example of S. Augustin. We have in the Person of this Saint, the most memorable that Antiquity could supply us with, to shew clearly how difficult a thing it is to Correct Vices contracted in Youth. I shall recount what he himself says of it, in the Narration he gives in his Confession, by a particular Inspiration of God, to teach all young People to be wise by his Example, and to advertise them to avoid the Dangers and Rocks whereon he was misfortunately shipwrackt, and prevent that Misery [Page 58]wherein the wicked Life of his Youth had totally engag'd him, if God had not with­drawn him by an Effect, or rather a Mira­cle of his Divine Mercy, which he hath not shewn to many others.

He saith First,Lib. 1. Confes. cap. 10. That he spent his Child­hood in all the wicked Inclinations that Age was capable of, disobeying his Pa­rents and Masters,Cap. 12. & 13. having an Affection for nothing but Play; flying Labour, refusing to Learn, not attending to those things which were profitable,Et tamen ego, Deus meus, li­benter haec di­dici, & dele­ctabar miser, & ob hoc bo­nae spei puer appellabar. Cap. 16. but only to those which were delightful and dishonest, wherein he took a singular Pleasure; ex­traordinary subject to Lying, addicted to little Thefts, and to all the Malice a Mind was capable of in that Age. He passes thus his Youth until the Age of Six­teen.

These first Inclinations, as it usually happens, were follow'd by other far great­er Disorders. Being come to Sixteen Years of Age,Cap. 19. that Mind which had not been restrain'd in the first disordinate Excesses of its Nature,Lib. 2. cap. 1. carry'd him to all the Vices his Age was apt to receive.Ubi eram, quam longe exulabam à deliciis domus tuae, anno illo sexto decimo aetatis carnis meae, cum ac­cepit in me sceptrum, & totas manus dedi ei, vesania libidinis licentiosae per dedecus humanum, illicitae autem per leges tuas. Cap. 2. He says it himself, and he says it with Sighs and Lamentations, That Sensuality and Lascivious Passions did so powerfully seise on his Heart in that Age, that they plung'd him into all the Sins of Impurity, even to such a heighth as is not fit to be [Page 59]exprest; so that neither the Fear of God, nor the discreet Corrections of his Mo­ther, nor the Infamy of Sin, nor any other Consideration, could any way bridle him in that first Disorder; but on the con­trary he became so ungracious, that he not only lost all shame for Vice,Praeceps ibam in tanta caecitate ut inter coaeta­neos meos, puderet me minoris dedecoris, quando audiebam eos jactantes flagitia sua & tanto gloriantes magis, quanto magis turpes essent. Cap. 3. but took a pride in it, and was asham'd not to be accounted as vicious as the most de­prav'd.

He began this Life when he was re­turn'd from his Studies in his Father's House, where he dwelt a whole Year; After that, he was sent to Carthage to finish his Studies, where he continu'd the same manner of Life till the Age of Nine­teen.

Here, Theotime, A considerable Remark for young Men. you shall take notice by the way, of four or five Causes of this Cor­ruption of S. Augustin in that Age.

The First, Idleness, wherein he spent his Sixteenth Year in his Father's House,Ubi sexto illo decimo anno interposito otio ex neces­sitate dome­stica feria­tus ab omni Schola, cum parentibus esse caepi, excesserunt caput meum vepra libidinum, & nulla erat eradicans manus. Lib. 2. cap. 2. at his return from his Studies, which is a Time very dangerous for young People, as we shall shew hereafter.

Secondly,Cum interea non fatageret idem pater qualis cresce­rem tibi, aut quam castus essem, dum­modo essem disertus. Ibid. Volebat enim illa, & secreto memini ut monuerit cum solicitudine ingenti ne fornicarer. Qui mihi monitus muliebres videbantur quibus ob­temperare erubescerem. Ibid. The little Care his Father took for his Salvation and Manners, con­cerning himself little that his Son should be Vertuous, so that he became Learned and Eloquent, as it happens to many Fa­thers.

Thirdly, The Contempt of the Admo­nitions of his Mother, who knowing her Sons Mind, exhorted him continually not to permit himself to be carry'd away by the Excesses of Impurity, but to no Ef­fect.

Fourthly,Quid dignum vituperio nisi vitium? ego ne vitupera­rer, vitiosior fiebam, & ubi non suberat, quo admisso aequarer per­ditis, finge­bam me fecisse quod non fe­ceram, ne vi­derer abjectior quo eram innocentior; & ne vilior haberer quo eram castior. Ibid. The wicked Examples of those of his Age so much prevail'd upon his Mind, that he endeavour'd to be more Impious, to the end he might be more like unto them; and when he saw himself sur­pass'd by them in Wickedness, he feign'd some Naughtiness which he had never committed, fearing to be contemn'd, by how much he appear'd less Vicious than others.

Fifthly,Relaxabantur etiam mihi ad ludendum ha­benae, ultra temperamentum severitatis, in dissolutionem affectionum varia­rum. Et in omnibus erat caligo intercludens mihi, Deus meus, serenitatem veritatis tuae, & prodibat tanquam ex adipe iniqui­tas mea. Ibid. Cap. 5. The great Liberty his Parents gave him for Play and Recreations, as he himself also takes notice.

These Causes cast him into Vice, and cherish'd him in his Disorders the space of Three Years, after which he began to open his Eyes, and acknowledge his Mi­sery. It is here, Theotime, where you shall know the great Difficulty with which one withdraws himself from the Vices of his Youth.

Being Nineteen Years of Age, he con­ceiv'd very effectual thoughts of his Sal­vation, which God rais'd in him by read­ingIlle vero Li­ber mutavit affectum me­um, & ad te­ipsum, Domine, mutavit preces meas ac vota, ac desideria mea fe­cit alia. a Book of Cicero, whose Title is Hortensius, containing an Exhortation to Wisdom.

The reading of this Book, as he himself saith, chang'd presently his Mind and In­clinations, and made him convert his Thoughts upon God, and alter his Desires.Viluit mihi repentè om­nis vana spes, & immortali­tatem sapien­tiae concupi­scebam aestu cordis incre­dibili. Et sur­gere jam cae­peram ut ad te redirem. Quomodo ar­debam reve­lare à terrenis ad te? Lib. 3. cap. 4. He began to contemn temporal and perish­able Goods and Pleasures, and to aspire with an incredible Longing after the Beau­ty of Wisdom, which never perisheth. And from that Time he began to depart from Vice, and to return to God with a most ardent Desire. Who would not have believ'd, but that these good Moti­ons would have been soon follow'd by a perfect Conversion? But alas, Theotime, what is not a wicked Habit contracted in Youth able to do! Vice and wicked Incli­nations had so seis'd upon his Heart, that altho' these Thoughts of his Conversion [Page 62]were very strong, and that he us'd all his Endeavours to recover himself from that Puddle of Dirt wherein he was plung'd, yet he continu'd therein not only a Day, a Month, a Year, but from the Nineteenth to the Thirtieth Year of his Age: And the Vices contracted in Three Years of his Youth, kept him in Slavery Twelve whole Years. During which Time he not only remain'd in his former Disorders, but fell into others yet greater: For as Immo­desty leads to Error and Blindness, he la­psed into the Heresie of Manichaeus; where­in he continu'd Nine Years, joyning to his Heresie the continual keeping of a Concu­bine; in which State he liv'd from his first Corruption, until the Time of his Conversion.

Being about Thirty Years of Age, he thinks more seriously of his Conversion than formerly, as he describes it in the Sixth Book Chap. 11. But hearken, Theo­time, with what trouble he purchas'd his Design.

After that first Thought,Cum haec di­cebant & al­ternabant hi venti, & im­pellebant huc atque illuc cor meum, transi­bant tempora, & tardabam converti ad Dominum De­um & deferebam de die in diem vivere in te, & non deferebam quotidie in meipso mori. he remain'd yet above Two Years in his wicked Life, deferring daily, as he saith himself, to be Converted unto God, and to seek in him the Life of Grace, not reflecting on the Death he caus'd in himself by his deprav'd Life. He ought to have employ'd much Time in curing his Understanding, and [Page 63]rooting out the Errors and Ignorances which yet remain'd of his Life past, as he describes them in the Seventh Book, and convincing himself of the necessity of his Conversion.

His Understanding being overcome,Et non erat jam ulla excu­satio, qua vi­deri mihi sole­bam propte­rea me non­dum contem­pto saeculo servire tibi, quia incerta mihi esset per­ceptio verita­tis, jam enim & ipsa certa erat, ego autem adhuc terra obligatus, militare tibi recusabam, & impedimentis omnibus sic timebam expediri, quemadmodum im­pediri temendum est. Lib. 8. cap. 5. Et ego ad me quae non in me dixi? quibus sententiarum verberibus non flagellavi animam meam, ut sequeretur me conantem post te ire, & renitebatur? Recusabat & non se excusabat. Consumpta erant, & convicta argumenta omnia. Remanserat muta trepidatio; & quasi mor­tem reformidabat restringi à fluxu consuetudinis, quo tabesce­bat mortem. Cap. 7. and his Will not yet submitting, the vici­ous Habits did in such a manner possess his Heart, that they made him fear his Amend­ment more than his Life, as he himself testifies. He should have rooted out the Vices one after another, Ambition, Cove­tousness, Impurity. Ambition and Co­vetousness were soon banisht out of his Soul, but that misfortunate Impurity kept yet a firm possession.

He was so enslav'd therewith,Mihi displice­bat quod age­bam in saeculo, & oneri mihi valde erat; non jam in­flammantibus cupiditati [...]us, ut solebant, spe honoris & pecuniae, ad tolerandam illam servitu­tem tam gravem. Sed adhuc tenaciter colligabar ex femina. Lib. 5. cap. 1. Putabam me miserum fore, si feminae privarer amplexibus. Lib. 6. cap. 11. that he thought he should never have been able to have got his Liberty, accounting it an extreme Misery to be depriv'd of those ignominious Pleasures, which are the source of all Misfortunes.

And Lastly, The difficulty of his Con­version was so great, that after many Combats, which he underwent in his Soul during the space of Fourteen or Fifteen Years, after the Solicitude, Prayers and Tears of his pious Mother, who had fol­low'd him by Sea and Land, from her own Country to Carthage, from Carthage to Rome, from Rome to Milan, to withdraw him from his Disorders, and gain him to God, to whom next to God he is indebted for his Salvation. After the powerful Exhortations of his best Friends, after many Conferences with the great S. Am­brose, and with other Persons eminent for Vertue and Learning; after all the power­ful interior Motions of Divine Grace, for his entire Conversion, he must have the Miracle of a Voice from Heaven, which cries aloud to him, Tolle, lege; Tolle, lege; Take and Read, Take and Read; Admo­nishing him to open the New Testament which he had by him. He takes it, and having open'd it, found these Words of the Apostle, by which the Holy Ghost wrought in his Soul her entire Conversion, and perfect Reconciliation;Rom. 13. Ver. 13. Non in com­essationibus & ebrietatibus, non in cubili­bus & impudicitiis, non in contentione & aemulatione; sed induimini Dominum Jesum Christum, & carnis curam ne feceritis in de­sideriis; Not in Banquetings and Drunken­ness, not in Beds and Wantonness, not in Strife and Emulation; but put on our Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the [Page 65]Flesh in Concupiscences. O God, is it possi­ble that the change of a Soul should be so difficult! and that Vices contracted in Youth, should cost so much Pains, and so many Remedies to cure them!

This is not yet all, O Theotime; S. Au­gustin being absolutely Converted, was not at all freed from the precedent Difficul­ties: For altho' he never return'd back af­ter his Conversion, in consequence where­of he perform'd an exact Penance, and liv'd a very Saintly, and altogether Angelical Life; Nevertheless he was sensible a long time after ofAdhuc vi­vunt in me­moria mea ta­lium rerum imagines quan ibi consuetu­do mea fixit. Lib. 10. cap. 30. the Remainders of his for­mer Life, and of frequent and very vio­lent Temptations; which being caus'd by the old Habits of his Youth, gave him much Trouble and Exercise, to conserve himself in Holiness, according to the Ac­count he hath given in the Tenth Book of his Confessions, and in the others follow­ing, where he describes the different Tem­ptations with which he was much tor­mented.

O Theotime, read over and over again this Example, consider attentively therein all the Particularities, and see to what Ex­tremity a vicious Habit of Youth, not re­sisted in time, is able to carry one. Fly the Danger where this Saint was like to perish, and where many make daily de­plorable Shipwreck of their Souls.

There is yet the Example of Manasses in the following Chapter, and that of S. Jerom. Pag. 3. Cap. 9. Art. 8.

Examples of those who have never Amended the Vices of their Youth.

AS in a Shipwreck, where a Ship is broken by a Tempest, there are al­ways many who perish, and very few who save themselves by Swimming or other­wise. Thus in the Shipwreck of Vertue, which many fall into in their Youth, the number of those who are entirely de­stroy'd therein is very great, and of those who escape very small.

You will understand the smalness of this Number, when you shall know, Theo­time, that in all the Holy History, a thing almost incredible, there is found but one only Example, in the Person of Manasses King of Juda, the Account whereof I shall give you hereafter; and that for this one it produces a vast number of others, who were miserably Shipwreckt in the Storm, and are dead in the Vices of their Youth; some having liv'd a long time after, others being snatcht away by Death in the prime of their Age. I shall here recount you some Examples.

First, of all the Kings of Israel, who to the number of Nineteen Reign'd over the Ten Tribes of Israel, after the Division that was made of that Kingdom from that of the Tribe of Juda, after the Death of Solomon, there was not one but was [Page 67]extremely wicked from his Youth, nor any that was Converted before his Death.

And altho' the Scripture doth not make express mention at all of the Life of their Youth, nevertheless it gives us sufficiently to understand that they were wicked in that Age, saying of each of them absolute­ly, that they were vicious, and not report­ing of them one Action of Vertue, except of one, viz. Jehu, of whom it recounts some good Works which he perform'd at his beginning, altho' afterwards he was perverted like the rest.

Amongst the Kings of Juda, who Reign'd to the number of Nineteen after Solomon, there were Six who were good; that is, Asa, Josaphat, Osias, Joathan, Eze­chias, Josias, and all the others were wick­ed. Those who were good, began from their Youth, and continu'd such all their Life; the greatest part of those who were vicious, began their Wickedness in their younger Years, and were never chang'd.

Thus it is said of King Ochosias, That he began to Reign about Twenty two Years of Age, and was wicked, an Imita­tator of the Idolatry of impious Achab King of Israel, who was taught by his Mother Athalia, Sister of that wicked King; And he Reign'd but a Year, at the end whereof he dy'd in his Wickedness.

It is said of Achaz, 4 Reg. 6. That he was Twen­ty Years of Age when he began to Reign; and that he apply'd not himself to Good,2 Para. 28. [Page 68]and to the Service of God, but to follow the Examples of the Idolatrous Kings of Israel, and that he far surpass'd them in Naughtiness, wherein he dy'd after he had persever'd in Wickedness the space of Six­teen Years.

Amon Reign'd at the Age of Twenty two,4 Reg. 21. and became an Imitator of the Vices of his Father Manasses, but not of his Repentance, and dy'd in his Sins at the end of Two Years,4 Reg. 23. Murther'd by his Do­mesticks.

Joachim began at the Age of Twenty five,2 Para. 36. and Reign'd Eleven Years; during which Time he was wicked like his Fa­ther's, and dy'd in his Iniquities, without being lamented by any one,Non plangent eum, vae fra­ter, vae soror! non concrepa­bunt ei; vae Domine, vae inclyte, Sepultura asini sepelietur, putrefactus & projectus, extra portas Jerusalem. Jerem. 22. and also de­priv'd of the Honour of a Sepulcher, ac­cording to the Menace of the Prophet Jeremy.

His Son Jechonias having Succeeded at the Age of Eighteen,4 Reg. 24. Reign'd but Three Months, at the end whereof he deserv'd for his Sins to be brought under the Sub­jection of Nabuchadonosor, and sent into Babylon, where he dy'd a long time after.

Sedecias, 4 Reg. 24. & 25. the last of the Kings of Juda, being come to the Crown at the Age of Twenty one, was also wicked like his Predecessors; and having persever'd in his Iniquities the space of Eleven years, he drew upon himself and his People the [Page 69]utmost Effect of the Revenge which God had threaten'd the Jewish Nation with for a long time: For in the Ninth Year of his Reign, the City of Jerusalem was Besieg'd by Nabuchadonosor King of Babylon, and after Two Years Siege it was Taken, Sackt, and put to Fire and Sword, the Temple Ransackt and Burnt; those of the People who had escap'd the fury of the Sword or Famine, were sent into Capti­vity. And he flying with his Children, was taken, and brought before the proud King; who after having receiv'd him with Expressions of Fury and Indignation, cau­sed his Childrens Throats to be cut be­fore his Face, and afterwards pull'd out his Eyes, and made him be sent Captive into Babylon, where he dy'd miserably, undergoing the just Punishment of his Ini­quities.

We must add to these Examples those which we have recounted in the Sixth Chapter, being that all those of whom we spoke in that place, are dead in their Sins, and by Sins begun in their Youth.

These Examples are very common in Sacred Scripture, the contrary are there very rare; and as I have said, we shall find but one only in the Old Testament, who was truly Converted after he had liv'd wickedly in his Youth, viz. Manasses, and that by so strange a Means, that it manifests more clear than Day, the dread­ful Difficulty with which one Corrects the wicked Inclinations of his younger Years.

This Prince having lost his Father Eze­chias, 4 Reg. 21. one of the most pious Kings of Juda, at the Age of Twelve Years, was Inheri­tor of his Crown, but not of his Vertues: For blotting out of his Mind presently the holy Examples, and wise Documents he had receiv'd from him, he addicts himself to all sorts of Vices and Impieties, such as the Scripture recounts. His Iniquities went on encreasing until the Fifteenth, or according to others, till the Two and twentieth Year of his Reign, wherein God sent him an extreme Affliction. He was taken by the Assyrians in the City of Je­rusalem, sent Captive into Babylon, loaden with Irons and Chains, cast into a fright­ful Prison, where he was daily afflicted with a vast number of Miseries and Perse­cutions.

Being reduc'd to this extremity of Mi­sery, he began to open his Eyes, and call upon him in his Afflictions, whom he had forgotten in his Prosperity. He acknow­ledg'd his Iniquities, and begg'd Pardon for them with a truly contrite Heart, and by the force of Tears and Prayers obtain'd from God his Deliverance: After which he did Penance for his Sins, and liv'd in Ho­liness all the remainder of his Life, even to the Age of Sixty seven, when he dy'd.

St. Jerom adds to this History a very remarkable Particularity, which he took out of the Tradition of the Hebrews: For Explicating what the Scripture says in general Terms,Qui postea­quam coangu­status est, ora­vit Dominum Deum suum. Hieron. in ques. Heb. in Paral. That Manasses being op­prest [Page 71]with Affliction, had recourse to God, he saith that it was in the Extremity of a frightful Death, to which he was expos'd. He should have been put to Death in a great brazen Vessel, pierc'd with many Holes, set upon a hot Fire; which heating the Vessel, and penetrating it on every side, should consume that miserable Prince by its Flames; by so much the more cruel, as it was tedious in duration. He was shut up in this Vessel, and the Fire kindled under him. In this dreadful Representa­tion of Death, this misfortunate Prince apply'd not himself to God, but first to the Idols which he had ador'd; so strange­ly was he blinded with his former Sins. But when he perceiv'd that it was to no end to invoke their Assistance, he call'd to mind a Sentence of the Sacred Scripture which he had often heard from his Father in his Youth, by which God promis'd his SuccoursDum quaesi eris Dominum Deum tuum invenies eum, si tamen t [...]o corde quae i­eris & tota tribulatione animae tuae. Deut. 4. to those who had recourse to him in their Tribulations, and converted them­selves to him with all their Heart, and had a great Sorrow for their Sins.

He presently raises his Heart to God with Sighs and Lamentations, and begs of him his Deliverance with such a Con­trition for his Sins, that God shew'd him Mercy, and not only deliver'd him from that frightful Death, but from his Slavery, and made him return to Jerusalem, where he spent the rest of his Life after the man­ner I have already touch'd. See here, Theotime, a Conversion after a wicked [Page 72]Life of Youth, but a Conversion purchas'd at a dear Rate.

Of the great Evils which spring from the wicked Life of Youth.

THE greatest of Evils is that where­of we speak,Tenth Motive which obliges young People to Vertue. viz. The loss of Sal­vation and Eternal Ruine, which befalls many by the Sins of their Youth; it be­ing certain, that Sins committed in that Age, are the original Cause of Damnation to many. But besides that, there are many others issuing from the same Fountain, which are necessary to be known, dear Theotime, to the end that knowing them, you may conceive a greater horror of the Cause which produces them.

The first Evil, viz. Death, which the Sins of Youth hasten to very many.

I put in the first place Death hasten'd, which happens to many young Persons in punishment of their Sins.

I do not mean that all those who die in the Flower of their Age, die in punishment of the Sins they have committed, nor also that all those who follow Vice in their Youth, should be punish'd with an untime­ly Death.

I know very well, that the Pious some­times depart in the prime of their Youth, [Page 73]and that this Death is a Recompence of their Vertue, and an Effect of the Love God bears them, according to that Testi­mony of the Sacred Scripture, in the Book of Wisdom; If the Just, says the Wise­man,Justus si morte praeoccupatus fuerit in refri­gerio erit pla­cens Deo fa­ctus dilectus, & vivens in­ter peccatores transsatus est. Raptus est ne malitia mu­taret intelle­ctum ejus, & ne fictio deci­peret animam illius; facina­tio enim nu­gacitatis ob­scurat bona, & inconstantia concupiscentiae transvertit sensum sine malitia, consummatus in brevi explevit tempora multa; placita enimerat Deo anima illius, propter hoc properavit Dominus edu­cere illum de medio iniquitatum. Sap. 4. be prevented by Death, he will find therein Repose, and Salvation; his Vertue having render'd him agreeable to God, made him purchase his Love, and merit to be taken out of this World, where he liv'd amongst Sinners. God withdrew him betimes, lest Corruption should slip into his Mind, and his Soul be deceiv'd with the false appearance of the Vanity and Pleasures of the World, which de­lude Men, and make them love those things which are most opposite to their Salvation.

I know also very well, that there are ma­ny Sinners who live a long time, and who grow old in the Vices they had contracted in their Youth,Dan. 13. like to him whom Daniel calls by that Name, Inveterate dierum ma­lorum, O thou that ard old in a wicked Life; and that the hasten'd Death of the Just, who dy'd in the Flower of his Age, con­demns, as the Wise-man says,Condemnat autem justus mortuus vivos impios, & ju­ventus cele­rius consum­mata longam vitam injusti. Sap. 4. Sicut vita mala quanto magis fuerit prolongata, tanto ma­gis delinquentibus multiplicat poenam; sic vita bona quamvis hic brevi tempore terminata sempiternam conquirit bene viventibus gloriam. Vita igitur mala immaturos acerbosque senes demer­git in Tartarum, vita verò bona defunctos juvenes maturos per­ducit ad regnum. S. Fulgen. Epist. 2. cap. 3. the long Life of the Wicked: Because this is made worthy of Heaven in a small time he liv'd, and the long life of those who serv'd only [Page 74]to multiply their Crimes, and encrease their Damnation.

But I say that it is also most true, that many die in Youth in punishment of their Sins, and that the Sins of that Age ad­vance the Death of many. The Scripture expresly shews this in many places, it al­ledges a vast number of Examples, and daily Experience makes it appear most evident.

Job speaking of the Wicked, says thatAntequam dies ejus im­pleantur, per­ibit & manus ejus arescent; laedetur quasi vinea, in pri­mo flore botrus ejus, & quasi oliva projiciens florem suum. Job 23. Ver. 3, 2. He shall perish before the number of his Days be accomplish'd, and shall be like a Bunch of Grapes, which a blasting Wind nips in its Flower, or like an Olive whose Bud breaking forth, is strucken with a Tempest.

Solomon in his Proverbs says,Timor Domi­ni apponet dies: anni impiorum breviabuntur. Prov. 10. v. 25. Quasi tempe­stas transiens non erit impi­us. v. 2. ibid. The Years of the Wicked shall be shortned, and the Sinner shall be like a Storm which passeth in a moment. Ne impie agas multum, & noli esse stultus, ne moriaris in tempore non tuo. Eccl. 7. In his Ecclesiastes Chap. 7. he admonishes you to have a care, not to abandon your self to Sin, nor to be of the number of the Unwise, that is of Sinners, lest you should die in a time not design'd for you, that is, sooner than you should have done, accord­ing to the natural Course of your Life.

And in the Eighth Chapter he desires by a just Indignation,Non sit bo­num impio, nec prolon­gentur dies ejus, sed quasi umbra transe­ant, qui non timent faciem Domini. Eccl. 6. that the Wicked should receive no Good, nor his Days be prolong'd, and that all those who have no Fear nor Respect for the Majesty of the All-seeing God, and who are so bold as to offend him before his Face, and in his Presence, should pass like a Shadow which hath no substance, and which perisheth in a moment.

All these Expressions are clear in Scri­pture, and the Effects are there yet more evident; See the Examples we have brought in the precedent Chapter, in the Persons of Ochosias, Amon, Joachim, and Sedecias. In the Sixth Chapter, in the Persons of the Children of Juda and Heli, and in that of Amnon and Absolom.

And altho' we had no other Proofs of this Verity, the Examples we daily see, do but discover it too clearly. How ma­ny young People do we see die, some by a burning Fever, or such like Malady; O­thers in a Quarrel, or some wicked En­counter; Others in Duels, which now reign so freely; Others kill'd in War; Others by certain dreadful and unexpect­ed Accidents? All these Deaths, which are but too frequent, are the Effects of the Di­vine Anger against young People, who con­temn his Favours, and refuse to Serve him in the Time wherein they are oblig'd to it. O Theotime, have a dread, lest these Punishments should befall you.

The Second Evil which springs from Sins committed in Youth, Blindness of Mind, and Obdurateness in Vice.

Corporal Death is not the only, nor the saddest Effect of the Sins of Youth; that which they cause in the Soul by in­teriour Blindness, and Obdurateness in Evil into which they cast her, are no less common, yet far more deplorable, and dreadful.Super mor­tuum plora, defecit enim lux ejus, & su­per fatuum plora, defe­cit enim sen­sus. Eccl. 22. Luctus mor­tui septem dies; fatui au­tem & impii omnes dies vitae illorum. We must lament the Dead, says the Wise-man, because he loseth the light; but we must lament a Sinner, because he hath lost his Judgment: The Sorrow for the Dead ought to continue but Seven Days, that is, a small time, but we must lament a Sinner all the space of his Life. For how can we con­sider without Tears and Sorrow, so great and universal a Misfortune, which we see in many young People, whom the Sins of their Youth bring to a prodigious Obdu­rateness, which abandons them to Vice without any restraint?Obdurateness of Youth in Vice. The multitude of those is innumerable, who after having spent the prime time of their Youth in the Disorders of Sin, and principally in those of Impurity, become insensible of their Salvation, blind in their proper In­terest, obdurate in Evil, contemning the most wholsom Admonitions, glorying in their Iniquities, scoffing at all the Good they see perform'd by others, and having [Page 77]no other thought than to take their Plea­sures, and follow all the Motions of their deprav'd Inclinations, running thus blind­ly on their Perdition, so that nothing is able to withhold them. O Theotime, is not this a deplorable Misfortune? But I wish to God it were not so frequent as it is great. S. Augustin had notably experi­enc'd it, in his own Person, as he himself reports in his Confessions; where he de­plores his Misfortune with Words which are able to move the hardest Hearts, and which deserve to be here cited at length, to teach young People how they ought to fear the misfortunate Effect of the Sins of Youth.

Exhalaban­tur nebulae de limosa concu­piscentiâ car­nis & scatebra pravitatis, & obnubilabant atque offasca­bant cor me­um, ut non discerneretur serenitas di­lecsionis à ca­ligine libidi­nis. Utrumque in confuso aestuabat & rapiebat imbecillam aeta­tem per abrupta cupiditatum, atque mersabar gurgite flagitio­rum. Lib. 2. Conf. cap. 2. That lascivious Concupiscence of the Flesh, and boiling of my Youthful Blood, ex­hal'd such Clouds into my Mind, that they overspread it with great obscurities, and in such a manner cast a Mist over it, that it could not discern the Serenity of chast Love, from the Darkness of impure Lust. Both of these raising turbulent Motions in me, dragg'd my frail Youth into the Precipice of all sort of Concupiscence, and plung'd it into the Gulf of Wickedness.

And afterwards he adds,Obsurdueram stridore cate­nae mortalita­tis meae, poena superbiae ani­mae meae & ibam longius à te, &c. That the bru­tish Passion of immodest Love, was a Chain which kept him bound, and that the Noise of this Chain continually mov'd and agi­tated, [Page 78]had made him interiorly Deaf, and hinder'd him from hearkning to any thing that admonish'd him for his good; like a Beast strongly Chain'd up, the motion of whose Chain did hinder it from hearing the Noise which was made about it. And that which is yet very remarkable is, that this Deafness was a Punishment of the Pride of his Soul, contracted by the Disor­ders of his Life, wherein he continually banish'd himself from God, plunging him­self more and more in the Abyss of Vice.

Behold, dear Theotime, whether the Sins of Youth lead one, and whither yours will infallibly bring you, if you withdraw not your self intirely, and that in good time.

This Subject of Blindness and Obdu­rateness in Vice, caus'd by the Sins of Youth, and particularly by the Sin of Im­purity, deserves a longer Discourse; but it shall be more amply Treated in Part 3. Chap. 8. Art. 2. whither I send you.

The Third Evil, the loss of many fair Hopes.

This Evil is too visible, and there needs no other Proof than daily Experience. How many young Souls do we see, who give fair Hopes by the excellent Qualities wherewith they are endow'd, who might make themselves capable of some great Action, and one day succeed in some con­siderable [Page 79]Employment, where God might be Honour'd, and the Publick considerably Serv'd, who go and destroy themselves at the Entrance, and coming to be misled in Youth, make themselves unfit for Noble Enterprises, for which they seem'd to be born, and frequently become idle Compa­nions, and absolutely unuseful; like to some Trees, all cover'd with Blossoms in the Spring, which a nipping Frost blasts and makes unfruitful all the rest of the Year.

This happens not only to those to whom the Sins of Youth either hasten Death, or bring an Obdurateness in Vice, as we have said, but also very frequently to those who are withdrawn from Sin after the first Disorders of their Youth, who having lost by Idleness, which ordi­narily accompanies Sin in that Age, the most precious Time of all their Life, are made uncapable of any thing, and unuseful for what is good. Or if they have not absolutely lost that Time, they are become by their reiterated and multiply'd Sins, unworthy of the Employments they were capable of, and to which God had design'd them.

Comprehend this well, Theotime, and that you may comprehend it better, take notice of what follows, viz. That God by his Providence designs young People to different Conditions, wherein he would Employ them for his Service and their Salvation; but upon this Condition, that [Page 80]they render themselves fit by their Labour during their Youth, and also make not themselves undeserving by their Sins. From whence it falls out, that when they addict themselves to Vice, and forget God in their Youth, God in punishment of their Sins excludes them from those Employ­ments to which they were call'd, and he had appointed for them in his first Inten­tion.

This Truth is grounded upon Sacred Scripture; when God promis'd to David the Kingdom of Israel, for himself and his Posterity, it was upon this Condition,Si custodie­rint filii tui testamentum meum, Psal. 131. Ita ta­men si custo­dierint filii tui vias meas. 2 Par. 6. Ita duntaxat si custodierint quae praecepi eis. 2 Par. 3.3. That he and his Offspring should live in the Observance of his Commandments.

A little while before he had taken away the Honour of Priesthood from the Fa­mily of the High Priest Heli, because he and his Children were become unworthy by their Sins. Altho' in his first Intenti­on he had appointedLoquens lo­cutus sum ut domus tua mi­nistraret in conspectu meo in sempi­ternum; nunc autem absit hoc à me, sed quicunque honorificaverit me glorificabo eum, qui autem contemnunt me, erunt ignobiles. 1 Reg. 2. that the Priesthood should always remain in that Family, but with this Condition, that they should not render themselves unworthy: The words are very clear in the First Book of Kings, Chap. 2.

This Procedure appears most evident in the Case of Saul first King of Israel. [Page 81]God had given that Kingdom to him, and to his Family, but upon Condition, that they should particularly observe his Com­mandments. It happen'd that this Prince transgress'd the Orders of God in two Oc­casions amongst others, in consequence whereof he was rejected from the King­dom which God had prepar'd for him.

The First was, when being one Day in his Camp, press'd by his Enemies to En­gage in a Battel, he Offer'd Sacrifice, not expecting the arrival of the Prophet Sa­muel, who had forbidden him Enterpri­sing any thing before his Return. The Sacrifice was scarce ended, when the Pro­phet came andDixitque Samuel ad Saul, Quid fecisti? stultè egisti, nec cu­stodisti man­data Domini Dei tui, quae praecepit tibi, quod si non fecisses, jam tunc praeparasset Dominus regnum tuum super Israel in sempiternum, sed nequaquam regnum tuum ultra consurget. 1 Reg. 13. said to him, What have you done? you have done foolishly, you have not kept the Commandment of the Lord your God which he had commanded you; for the Lord had lately Establish'd your Kingdom up­on Israel for ever. But now your Kingdom shall not continue.

The Second Occasion was, when having overcome the Amalecites, he spar'd the Life of their King, and preserv'd their Flocks and all their Riches, against the Command God had given him not to spare any thing, but to consume all with Fire and Sword. Samuel comes and reproches him for his Disobedience, and declares unto him on the Part of God, that he should be [Page 82]no more King of Israel. Pro eo quod abjecisti ser­monem Do­mini, abjecit te Dominus ne sis Rex. 1 R. 15. Because, says he, you have rejected the Word of God, he hath also rejected you, so that you shall be no more King.

Learn from these Examples, Theorime, that God sometimes designs Men to Em­ployments which their Sins hinder them from obtaining,An important Advice. or continuing a long time in them after they have gotten them. And be assur'd, that if you live wickedly in your Youth, you have great reason to fear that God will reject you from that Condition to which he had design'd you, and that you shall never atchieve any thing consi­derable, God refusing you the Honour to be Serv'd by you when you shall be at a fit Age, as you have neglected to Serve him in your Youth.

The Fourth Evil springing from the Sins of Youth, The Excess of Vice amongst Men.

This Evil will seem to you at present incredible, but you will understand it clear­ly when you have made the least reflection upon it.

For First, If it be true, as we have shewn, that the Vices of Youth are very hardly Corrected, it follows, that a great part of the Corruption we see amongst Men, springs from that which they had contracted in their younger Years.

Besides, it is certain that bad Children become wicked Pathers, and wicked Fa­thers make their Children vicious: As they have liv'd in Disorder during their Youth, they concern themselves but little that their Children should be Educated in the Fear of God; and thus Corruption is communicated, and passes from Father to Son by a continual Succession.

Now if this Proposition be verifi'd in the greatest part of young Persons, it is sound more evident in those who are call'd to Study; of whom it is true to say, that their wicked Life causes the greatest part of the Sins and Disorders of the World; because they are the Men that attain to Dignities, whether Ecclesiastical or Secu­lar; wherein they behave themselves ac­cording to the Inclinations and Habits they had learn'd in their Youth, and ac­cording to the first Impressions they re­ceiv'd. Now when they comport them­selves ill in these Conditions, the Evil stays not at their Persons, but descends to many, viz. to those they ought to Govern, Instruct or Edifie; who instead of receiving from them the Examples of Vertue, gather nothing but the Imitation of their Vices, and the Corruption of their Manners.

In a word, I say, Theotime, that vicious Students become First in the Church wick­ed Priests, Ignorant, Unprofitable to God and his Church, and frequently Scanda­lous, Idle, Covetous, Worldly and De­baucht [Page 84]Incumbents; Pastors incapable of their Charge, who acquit themselves very badly of it, to the great Detriment of the Salvation of Souls. In the Nobility, Gen­tlemen Proud, Quarrelsom, Duellers, Im­modest, Blasphemous, Libertines. In the the Courts of Justice, base Judges, Cor­rupted, Acceptors of Persons, and who commit many Injustices for Mony, Favour, or Fear, thro' the Ignorance or Rashness with which they give Sentence; Advocates that are Wranglers, Impostors and Cheat­ers. In the Civil State, Magistrates inca­pable of their Charges, little careful of their Duty, who see Vice and hinder it not. And from the Corruption of these Four sorts of Persons springs the Depravation of the People, and the overflowing of Vice in the World.

Consider attentively, O dear Theotome, all these four Evils one after another, and learn by their greatness how important a thing it is for you to addict your self to Vertue in your Youth.

That the Devil uses all his Endeavors to move young People to Vice.

IN fine,Eleventh Mo­tive to Serve God in Youth. Theotime, that I may make you comprehend, how important a thing it is for you to addict your self to God in your Youth; there remains that I [Page 85]should tell you, That the Devil, that sworn Enemy of Mens Salvation, fearing nothing more than to see you Vertuous in your Youth, employs all his Endeavors to gain you to him, and all those of your Age, that he may destroy you presently after without recovery.

This Truth is a very manifest Conse­quence from all that we have said before.The Attempt of the Devil to destroy young People. That cursed Fiend, who studies nothing but to rob God, as much as he can, of the Honor due to him, and Men of the Happi­ness prepar'd for them, knows very well, that to incline Youth to Vice, is the means to take away from God the first and great­est Acknowledgment which Men owe him. He knows in the Second place, how much a wicked Life of Youth is injurious to God, as we have manifested above: And more­over, he understands very well, that there is no other more certain way to fill the Earth with Iniquities, and to Damn all Mankind. This is the reason why he employs all his Industry to deprave the Innocence of Youth, as the first Source of Salvation, and of all the Blessings of the World. He knows well, that to empoi­son the Waters of a Fountain, it is suffici­ent to cast Venom into the Spring, which communicates it easily to all the Brooks: And that to Conquer a Realm, it is suffici­ent to gain the chief Places which give Entrance into all the rest of the Country.

This misfortunate Fiend understands well how to put in practice the Malice he [Page 86]taught to Pharao, Exod. 1. to whom he suggested the destruction of all the Male Children of the Israelites in their Cradle, that so he might exterminate and root out that Peo­ple of God.

He Exerciseth daily both the Malice and the Cruelty of Nabuchodonosor, 1 Reg. 21. who having taken King Sedecias with his Chil­dren, at the Sacking of Jerusalem, caus'd the Childrens Throats to be cut before the Fathers Face, and satisfi'd himself to pluck out afterward the Father's Eyes, and to let him live. Thus this cruel Enemy employs all his Malice to murther the Children by Sin, and strives to blind inte­riorly the Fathers, that they may not see, or not be sensible of the loss of their Chil­dren, nor deliver them from the Danger wherein they are.

The same King returning into his Coun­try,Parvuli ejus abierunt in captivitatem ante faciem tribulantis. Thren. 1. Idcirco ego plorans, & o­culus meus de­ducens aquas, quia longe fa­ctus est a me consolator convertens a­nimam meam; facti sunt filii mei perditi, quoniam invaluit, inimicus. Audite universs populi & videte dolorem meum. Virgines meae & juvenes mei abierunt in captivitatem. Ibid. Quos educavi & enutrivi, inimicus consumpsit cos. Cap. 2. proud and puff'd up with his Victo­ries, carry'd for the fairest part of his Tri­umph, the young People of the City of Jerusalem, which he sent Prisoners before him, as it is said by the Prophet Jeremy: And he left nothing in that desolate City more to be lamented or mourned for, than the deplorable loss of the young People, which the same Prophet bewails above all its other Calamities; some being destroy'd by the Sword, others cruelly snatch'd a­way, and sent into a barbarous Captivity.

Thus, dear Theotime, this detestable Fiend, who, as the Scripture says, is esta­blish'd King over all the Proud, hath no greater reason insolently to triumph over the Holy Church; than for the multitude of young People which he keeps in Sal­very by Sin. And this pious Mother ac­counts no Ruin more deplorable than that of her dear Children, which that Enemy snatches from her in their younger Years, some by one Vice, others by another; and almost all by the Sin of Impurity, which is the strongest Chain by which he Fetters them, Exercising thus continually the Rage he hath conceiv'd against her from her Nativity, and the immortal War he hath sworn to wage against all her Chil­dren, according to the Revelation made to St. John in the Apbcalyps. Apoc. 12.

Lastly, This War of the Enemy of Mankind against young People, is a thing so manifest, that the same St. John wri­ting to the Faithful, and congratulating every Age for the Blessings which were most proper to them, makes a particular Congratulation to young People, for the Victory they have gain'd over that Enemy, as be those who are most persecuted.Scribo vobis adolescentes, quoniam vi­ciltis malig­num; Scribo vobis juvenes, quoniam for­tes estis, & verbum Dei manet in vobis, & vicistis malignum. 1 Job. 2. I write to you, young Men, says he, because you have conquer'd the malignant Spirit; I write to you young People, because you are va­liant, and the Word of God hath remain'd with you, and you have over come the Enemy.

O dear Theotime, happy are all those young People to whom with truth we may say, that they have conquer'd the Enmy of their Salvation. I represent unto you here the War he wages against those of your Age, that we may congratulate you in that manner; and that by the Perse­cution he raises against you, you may know First, how necessary it is that you should be Vertuous in your Youth, since the Devil endeavors so powerfully to di­vert you. Secondly, with how much Courage you ought to resist the Attempts of that cruel Enemy, who seeks your De­struction with so much Fury. How is it possible you should not stand in horror of that Enemy of your Salvation? and that you should not stand more in dread of let­ting your self be overcome by that de­testable Enemy, who seeks all ways to destroy you for ever, than of Death it self?

The Conclusion of all that hath been said above.

IT is time to put an end to this First Part;Reed attentive­ly this Chapter. and in Recapitulating all that we have said, to represent to you in short, the great Obligations you have to addict your selves to Vertue in your Youth.

Certain it is then, Theotime, that it is [Page 89]of no light Consequence that you should be Vertuous in your younger Years, and that the good or evil Life of Youth is not Childs Play, nor a thing that deserves lit­tle Care or Regard, as the greatest part of the World thinks; but that it is a Business of great Importance, the Conse­quence whereof is founded upon all that is most high and sacred in the Interests of the Service of God, and Salvatiion of Men.

1.Above Chap. 1. You are oblig'd to Serve God in your Youth, by reason of the Acknow­ledgment you owe to him as to your Crea­tor, and as to your Sovereign Master, for the Being you have receiv'd from him, and by reason of the most sublime and excel­lent End for which he hath Created you, having made you for nothing less than to possess him eternally in Heaven, after you have faithfully Serv'd him upon Earth.

2.Chap. 2. By reason of the vast Favours he has bestow'd upon you, by Calling you to Christianity, and to the true Religion out of which there is no Salvation.

3.Chap. 3, 4. Because the Service of young People is singularly pleasing to God, since he loves them with a particular Affection, and is pleas'd to confer many Benefits upon them.

4.Chap. 5. Because you cannot refuse him your Service, without offering him a very hei­nous Injury.

5.Chap. 6. By reason he hath an incredible A­version for wicked young People.

6.Chap. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Because your Eternal Salvation hath a great dependence upon the Life you lead in your Youth: So that if you set your Affection upon Vertue in your younger Years, you will easily conserve it all the re­mainder of your Life; and if you follow Vice, you cannot withdraw your self but with very great difficulty, and perhaps not at all.

7.Chap. 13. By reason of the heavy Misfortunes which spring from the wicked Life of Youth, untimely Death, Obdurateness in Sin, the loss of many fair Hopes, and the overflowing of Vice amongst Men.

8.Chap. 14. And Lastly, Because of the Persecu­tion which the Devil raises against young People, whom he continually endeavors to withdraw from the Service of God, and cast betimes into Disorders, that he may destroy them without recovery.

After all these Reasons, I demand of you, Theotime, whether now you have any cause to doubt what you have to do? Are not these Considerations powerful enough to convince you absolutely of the Obliga­tion you have to addict your self to Ver­tue in your Youth? And if you be con­vinc'd thereof, what do you mean? What is your Design and Resolution for the fu­ture? Perhaps hitherto you have not com­prehended the greatness of this Obligati­on, but now understanding it clearly, what Judgment ought you not to expect from God?Job 24. Ipsi fuerunt rebelles lu­mini. If you be rebellious to the Light, and act as those Impious in the Scri­pture, [Page 91]who say to God, Depart from us, Qui dixerunt Deo recede à nobis, Scienti am viarum tu­arum nolumus we will not receive the knowledge of thy Ways.

The Sacred Scripture recounts, that the Jews being return'd from the Captivity of Babylon, 2 Esdras 8. the Prophet Esdras caus'd the Book of the Law to be publickly Read un­to them, from whence they had receiv'd no Instruction for the space of the Seventy Years of their Captivity.

That People had scarce begun to un­derstand the Law, when they fell a Weep­ing most bitterly, and made the Air to refound with their Cries and Lamentati­ous: So that the Priests and Levites who Read the Law, were more Employ'd to stop their Tears, and Comfort them, than to Instruct them. This poor People did mi­serably deplore their Misfortune of being ignorant of their Duty and Obligation to the Service of God, and of being so far re­mov'd as not to come to the knowledge thereof.

O dear Theotime, I beseech the Divine Goodness by his Grace to work the same Effects in your Heart. After reading the Truths I have represented to you, is it possible that you should not be touch'd with the force of Truth, and your own Salvation? And that after reading all these Reasons, which shew you the strict Obligations you have to the Service of your Creator, you should shut the Book without making any reflection upon your self, or upon your Resolutions, for the fu­ture? [Page 92]I conjure you by the Honor and Respect you owe to God, by the Love you owe to his Son Jesus Christ your Gracious Saviour; by the Affection you ought to have for your Eterna! Salvation: I con­jure you, I say, that you do not read these Truths unprofitably; and that when you have read them, you do not cast the Book out of your Hands, until you have made a full Resolution to hink seriously on your Salvation, and to Correct your past Life by a Holy and Vertuous one, if it hath been Disorderly.

It is here, dear Child, where you must open your Eyes to see your self, and de­plore your past Offences, and the Blind­ness which hath produced them, saying with S. Augustin, Vae, vae te­nebris meis in quibus ja­cui! Vae cae­citati illi in quâ videre non poteram lumen coeli! Vae praeteritae ignorantiae meae quando non cognosce­bam te Domi­ne! Gratias tibi ago illuminator & Redemptor mens, quoniam illuminasti me, & cognovi te; serò te cognovi veritas antiqua, serò te cognovi ve­ritas aeterna. Solli. cap. 33. We, wo, be to the Dark­ness wherein I have lay'n; Wo be to the Blindness which hath hindred me from seeing the Light of Heaven; Wo to my past Igno­rance, wherein I knew not Thee. I give Thee Thanks, O God, whom I acknowledge to be my Illuminator and Redeemer, because Thou hast Illuminated me with Thy Grace, so that now I know Thee. I have known Thee too late, O Ancient Truth; I have known Thee too late, O Eternal Verity.

Here it is that you must hearken to the Voice of your Eternal Father, who calls you to him. To day, says the Pro­phet, [Page 93] if you hear his Voice, harden not your Hearts. You must return to him with much Confusion, for having so much abus'd his Goodness, and behav'd your self like an ungracious Child towards so pious a Father; deploring from the bottom of your Heart your Ingratitude and Infidelity, with those excellent Expressions of S. Bernard; Ipse patrem se exhibuit mihi, sed non ego vicissim illi filium; quanam fron­te attollo jam oculos ad vul­tum patris tam boni tam malus filius! Pudet indigna gessisse genere meo, pudet tanto Patri vixisse dege­nerem. Exitus aquarum deducite oculi mei, operiet confusio fa­ciem meam. S. Ber. Serm. 16. in Cant. God by his Bounty hath been pleas'd to shew himself a Father towards me, but I have not carry'd my self like a Son towards him; With what Face can I raise my Eyes towards Hea­ven, to so good a Father, having been so undu­tiful a Child! I blush to have committed Actions unworthy of my Extraction. I have a Confusion for my Life past, because I have so much degenerated from so good and holy a Father. Weep, mine Eyes, and turn your selves into a Fountain of Tears, and let Confusion overshade my Countenance.

O happy Tears, dear Theotime, Quae secun­dum Deum tristitia est, Poenitentiam in salutem stabilem ope­ratur. 2 Cor. 7. a blessed Confusion, which coming from God, and perform'd according to his Will, hath wrought in you a holy Penance, and will put you into the Path of Eternal Salva­tion, and happily conduct you in the Path of Vertue, which I shall immediately dis­cover unto you by the Assistance of his Divine Grace.

The End of the First Part.

Of the necessary Means to acquire Vertue during Youth.

WHEN the holy Man Toby had appointed his Son to go to the City of Rages, Tob. 4, & 5. to his Friend Gabelus, he commanded him at the same time to seek the Means to per­form that Voyage, and endeavor to find a Guide to conduct him thither securely. The good Child setting himself to com­ply with his Duty in obeying the Orders of his Father, meets by a special Provi­dence of God, with the Angel Raphael, in [Page 95]the Habit of a Traveller, who promis'd to conduct him in his Voyage, and to bring him back safe and sound, all which he per form'd exactly.

Thus, dear Theotime, having shew'd you the Indispensable Obligations you have, to put your self in the Way of Vertue in your Youth, I tell you now, that you ought to learn, and know perfectly the Means, which are necessary to perform securely that so important a Voyage.

I shall discover them to you in this Se­cond Part; and if you shall carefully en­quire after them, God will send his Angel to conduct you in the Way, and assist you with his Grace happily to arrive at the End of them.

Wherein true Vertue consists.

THE First Means to acquire Vertue,First Means, the knowledge of true Vertue. is the knowledge of real Vertue, and the discerning of solid Piety from that which is false and imaginary.

Many seem to love Vertue,Many sorts of false Vertue. who are far from it, because they love not Vertue as it is in its self, but as they represent it to themselves in their Mind, every one form­ing it to his own Idea, and according to his own Inclination: For some think themselves Vertuous, when they are not of the number of the Wicked. Others place Vertue in abstaining from certain [Page 96]Vices, for which they have a kind of a­version, altho' they are subject to others which are no less criminal in the sight of God. Others esteem themselves when they are addicted to some Actions of ex­terior Piety, altho' on the other side they wholly neglect the interior regulation of their Conscience, which is ordinarily de­fil'd with mortal Sins. And all these are so much more to be lamented, as they imagine themselves to be in a good Way, when they are absolutely out of it; and thinking to arrive by that Course at the Port of Salvation, they find themselves at length Travelling in the direct Way to Perdition, verifying in that respect, that Saying of Solomon, Est via quae videtur ho­mini recta, & novissima ejus ducunt ad mor­tem; There is a Way which to a Man seems straight, and the end of it leads to Death.

Vertue, Theotime, doth not depend up­on the Esteem of Men, it is the Work of God; from him then must we learn its Rule, there being none but he who can prescribe it as it is to be follow'd.

Hearken then to what he himself speaks of it in the Sacred Scripture,True Vertue consists in the Fear of God. and he will teach you how Wisdom, that is, Vertue, consists in fearing God, and flying absolutely from Sin, Dixit homini, timor Domini ipsa est sapi­entia, & rece­dere à malo intelligentia. Job 28. and that he hath thus Instructed Man in his Creation. Then, saith Job, that is, in the beginning of the World, God said to Man, The fear of God is true Wisdom, and perfect Ʋnderstanding consists in depart­ing from Sin.

He teacheth the same thing by the Kingly Prophet, by whom he gives you this general Rule for Vertue,Psal. 36. Declina à malo, & fac bonum; Fly from Evil, and perform Good.

Wise Solomon in like manner informs you with the same Truth,Finem di­cendi pariter omnes audia­mus. Deum Time, & man­data ejus ob­serva, hoc est enim omnis homo. Eccl. 12. Fear God, says he, and observe his Commandments, for in that is all Man; in that consists the Perfection of Man, for that he was born, that is his last End and absolute Felicity.

In fine, the Sacred Scripture acknow­ledges no other Wisdom or Piety than the Fear of God, which it callsInitium Sa­pientiae Ti­mor Domini. Prov. 11. The beginning of Wisdom.

Now this Fear is not that which is pure­ly servil, which apprehends more the Pu­nishment than the Detestation of Sin; but it is an amorous Fear of the Children of God, which makes them hate Sin because it displeaseth God, and love Good, because it is agreeable to him. Like the Fear and Respect a young Godly Child bears his Fa­ther, which makes him fearful to offend him, and seek diligently all Means to please him generally in his Actions.

So that, Theotime, according to the Maxims of the Divine School, true Vertue consists in the Fear of God, which punctu­ally, and for the love of him produces the observation of the Commandments, and which causes a fear and detestation of of­fending God above all things, and seeks the Means to please him. This alone ought to be accounted Vertue, and that [Page 98]which is not directed by this certain and infallible Rule, is to be esteem'd false Piety.

That to acquire Vertue, we must desire it.

THE knowledge of a thing is not suf­ficient to acquire it,Second Means, The desire of Wisdom. we must love and ardently desire it. Love is the Pri­mum mobile, or First Mover of our Actions; Love animates the Enterprises, and makes them succeed. If this be certain in all o­ther things we undertake, it is yet more infallible in Vertue; because the love and desire of Vertue is one part of Vertue it self, and a very powerful Means to at­tain to it.

It is the Means the Wiseman gives you, dear Theotime, and which he himself made use of with very good success. In the Sixth Chapter of the Book of Wisdom, he saith,Clara est Sa­pientia & quae nunquam marcescit, & facile videtur ab his qui di­ligunt Eam, & invenitur ab his qui quae­runt Illam: praeoccupat eos qui se con­cupiscunt ut illis se prior ostendat. Sap. 6. That Wisdom is a thing which can­not be hidden, nor be subject to Corruption, nor to be easily lost out of the sight of him that seeks her; for, She is quickly perceiv'd by those who love her, she prevents those who desire her, and goes before to manifest her self to them. But hearken how he himself made use of these Means in his Youth, and learn to conform your self to that Divine Original.

He saith in the Seventh Chapter, That [Page 99]having consider'd the common Misery of Men, who are all born in Weakness and Ignorance, he began to sigh after, and ear­nestly desire this Wisdom, and to be freed from these Afflictions.Propter hoc optavi & da­tus est mihi sensus. Invo­cavi & venit in me spiritus Sapientiae, & praeposui il­lam regnis & sedibus: Di­vitias nihil esse duxi in comparatione illius, nec comparavi illi lapidem pre­tiosum; quoniam omne aurum in comparatione illius arena est exigua, & tanquam lutum aestimabitur argentum in conspec [...]u illius, venerunt autem mihi omnia bona pariter cum illa, & in­numerabilis honestas. Sap. 7. For this reason, says he, I wish'd, and receiv'd Ʋnderstand­ing and Prudence; I demanded by my Prayers the Spirit of Wisdom, and it was bestow'd upon me; I made more account of her than of Kingdoms and Thrones: Riehes I esteem'd as nothing in comparison of her, neither did I compare Precious Stones to her; for all Gold is but a little Gravel in respect of her, and all Silver shall be accounted but Clay before her; and all good things came to me together with her, and innumerable Riches through her Hands.

Having afterwards describ'd the Beau­ty and Wonders of Wisdom, he adds in the Eighth Chapter,Hanc amavi & exquisivi eam à juven­tute mea, & quaesivi Spon­sam mihi eam assumere, & amator sum factus formae ipsius: pro­posui ergo hanc adducere mihi ad convi­vendum, sciens quoniam mecum communicabit de bonis, & erit allocutio cogitationis & taedii mihi. Sap. 8. I have lov'd, says he, this Divine Wisdom from my Youth, and sought her; I desir'd to have her for my Spouse, such love had I for her Beauty; and renouncing the affection to all mortal and perishable Creatures, I have propos'd to take her into my Company, knowing she would counsel me good things, and comfort me in Cares and Griefs; wherein true Felicity consists.

O what an excellent Example, Theo­time, is this, to make you understand how necessary the desire of Vertue is, and how effectual to purchase it. Learn then by following this Pattern, to set your Affecti­on on Vertue, and ardently to desire it; Perswade your self, as it is most certain, that there is nothing besides it that is de­sirable in the World, nothing that can worthily satisfie your Love but it alone, nor nothing that can render you happy and contented; and that without it you will always be miserable both in this Life and in the next.

Of Prayer, the Third Means to acquire Vertue.

THIS is the great Means to attain to Vertue,Third Means, Prayer. and that without which it is impossible to acquire it. It is not sufficient to desire it, we must search for it with all diligence; and that we may successfully seek for it, we must go to the right Fountain, and demand it of him who is the Author of it, and bestows it on those who beg it as they ought, according to that Expression of the Scripture,Si quis in­diget Sapien­tia, postulet à Deo qui dat omnibus afflu­enter. Jac. 1. If any one wants Wisdom, let him demand it of God, who gives it abundantly to all.

This is the Means which wise Solomon employ'd with that arden desire of Wis­dom, [Page 101]whereof we have even now spoken, and by this Course he obtain'd all that he wish'd for:Haec cogi­tans apud me & commemo­rans in corde meo, &c. cir­cuibam quae­rens ut mihi illam assume­rem; puer au­tem ingenio­sus eram, & sortitus sum animam bo­nam, & cum essem magis bonus veni ad corpus inco­inquinatum, & ut scivi quoniam ali­ter non pos­sum esse continens, nisi Deus det, & hoc ipsum erat summa sapien­tia scire cujus esset hoc donum, adii Dominum & deprecatus sum ex totis praecordiis meis. Sap. 8. For in the same place he saith, that after he had consider'd all the Perfections of Wisdom, he conceiv'd such an ardent love for her, that he apply'd himself always to find her; and that in favour of the Innocence of his tender Age, during which time he had conserv'd both Soul and Body exempt from the Corru­ptions of Youth, he obtain'd from God that Favour, to know that Wisdom is a Gift of God, and that he could not acquire it, unless God gave it him; and that he had no sooner understood this Truth, but he address'd himself to that Author of all Wisdom; and that he requested him with all the strength of his Heart in the man­ner we shall tell you presently.

Besides, this excellent Example, the Scripture also furnisheth you with that of the wise Author of Ecclesiasticus, who re­counts hus the Means he made use of in his Youth to acquire Vertue:Cum adhuc junior essem, antequam oberrarem, quaesivi sapi­entiam palam in oratione mea, ante tempus postu­labam pro illa, & usque in no­vissimis inqui­ram eam, am­bulavit pes meus iter re­ctum, à juven­tute investi­gavi eam, manus meas extendi in altum, & in sapientia mea luxit anima mea & ignorantias meas illuminavit. Eccl. 51. When I was yet young, and in the first innocence of my Age, I sought Wisdom in demanding her of God by my Prayers; I have asked for her early, and I will search for her even to the end of my Life; I have departed from Vice to seek her from my Youth; I have lifted up my Hands towards Heaven, and my Soul hath [Page 102]acknowledged her ignorance, hath sighed after the Wisdom which God communicates to Men, and he hath vouchsafed to illuminate my Darkness, and bestow upon me that so much to be wish'd for Wisdom.

This is the way these great Men took to acquire Wisdom. The Scripture pro­poses them to all young People as the Mo­del they ought to imitate to attain her, and I would to God they were imitated by many.

But for you, Theotime, who by the Grace of God aspire to that Wisdom, it beho­veth you to imitate them, and follow the way they have shewn, begging daily of God with all the ardor of your Affection this Wisdom, which removes Ignorance, banisheth away Sin, and leads by the Path of Vertue to real Felicity, by offering to him from the bottom of your Heart that excellent Prayer of Solomon.

Domine mi­fericordiae, qui fecisti omnia verbo oris tui; da mihi sedi­um tuarum assistricem Sa­pientiam, & noli me repro­bare à pueris tuis, quoniam servus tuus sum ego & fi­lius ancillae tuae, homo in­firmus & exi­gui temporis, & minor ad intellectum judicii & le­gum: Mitte Il­lam de coelis sanctis tuis & de sede magnitudinis tuae, ut mecum sit, & mecum la­boret, & sciam quid acceptum sit apud te, scit enim illa omnia & intelligit, & deducet me in operibus meis sobriè, & custodiet me in sua potentia, & erunt accepta opera mea. Sap. 9. O God of mercy, who hast created all things with thy Word; I most humbly beseech thee, that thou wouldst bestow upon me some ray of thy Divine Wisdom which accompanies thee in Heaven. Cast me not out of the num­ber of thy Children. Vouchsafe to acknow­ledge that I am thy Servant and thy Crea­ture, a Man weak and mortal, and uncapable of comprehending by my self thy holy Precepts. Send me from Heaven, and from thy Seat of Majesty, thy Divine Wisdom, that she may [Page 103]be with me, and labour with me; and that by her holy Inspirations I may know thy Will to fulfil it; And that she may conduct me in all my Actions according to the Rule of thy Com­mandments, and conserve me by her Power, that I may may have the happiness to please thee in all the Actions of my Life.

With this Prayer, or some such like it, if you say it as you ought, you will obtain all that you shall demand: But remember, that it must have these Three Conditions that it may be efficacious;Three Conditi­ons of Prayer. It must be Humble, Fervent, and Perseverant. Hum­ble, acknowledging that you cannot obtain Wisdom or Vertue, but from God alone. Fervent, to demand her with a most fer­vent Desire. Perseverant, to beg her daily, as there is no Day wherein the Divine Grace is not necessary, to conserve or en­crease her.

That they must love and seek after Instructions.

BEsides the Means of Prayer, Instru­ction is also necessary:Fourth Means, Instruction. For there is none but God who can give Wisdom; yet [Page 104]ordinarily he doth not bestow it but by the Ministry of Men, by whom he is pleas'd we should be conducted in the Path of Vertue, inspiring by his Grace our Hearts with his holy Truths, at the same time that Men teach us on their Parts by their Words. For this reason hath he establish'd in his Church Pastors and Doctors, as the Apostle saith, to teach Men Divine Veri­ties, and conduct them in the Way of Sal­vation.

Now if Instruction be necessary for all Men, it is yet most of all for young Per­sons, who by reason of their Age have lit­tle knowledge of the Maxims of Wis­dom, and less Capacity to know them­selves.

It is not then sufficient for you dear, Theotime, that you daily beg Wisdom and Vertue from Almighty God, you must love and seek after Instruction and Dire­ction in the Way, by them who under­stand it.

This Desire of Instruction is so neces­sary for Vertue, that it is the beginning thereof, according to that saying of the Wiseman, The beginning, saith he, of Wis­dom is a real Desire of Instruction.

And Lastly, that you may be fully con­vinc'd, read attentively this excellent Ex­hortation which he hath made you con­cerning it, in Chap. 6. of Ecclesiasticus; Fili, Si at­tenderis dis­ces, & si ac­commodave­ris animum tuum Sapiens eris, si incli­naveris au­rem tuam ex­cipies doctri­nam, & si di­lexeris audire sapiens eris; in multitudi­ne presbyte­rorum sapien­tum sta, & prudentiae illorum in corde conjungere, ut omnem nar­rationem Dei possis audire & proverbia laudis non te effugiant. Eccl. 6. Son, says he, if you attentively hearken to them who can Direct you, you will learn; If you bring thither a tractable Spirit, you [Page 105]will become wise; If you shall readily give ear to good Instructions, you will receive Knowledge, and if you love to hear Others, you will attain to Wisdom; Wherefore have a care to Converse with wise Men, desire their Company and discreet Discourses; that you may understand them when they speak of God, and not be depriv'd of those excellent Truths you ought to learn from their Mouths.

Now there are many ways by which we may receive Instructions for Vertue and Salvation. As Preaching, Books of Piety, of which we shall speak hereafter. But that which is most necessary for you, is the particular Conduct of a wise and vertuous Person, who may teach you the Way of Vertue. For this reason the Wise­man adds to the former words;Si videas Sensatum, evi­gila; & gra­dus ostiorum illius exterat pes tuus. Ibid. If you know an understanding Man, be diligent to seek after his Knowledge, and frequently visit him.

Of the necessity of a Guide in the Way of Vertue, and particularly during Youth.

THIS Means, Theotime, Fifth Means. the Conduct of a Guide. is the most important of all those which can conduct us to Vertue; It is the Guide who [Page 106]can make all others succeed, and without whom it is almost impossible you should usefully employ them. The Way of Salva­tion and real Wisdom is a Road unknown to you, you have need of a Guide to Direct you. This is a certain Maxim of the Sa­cred Scripture and holy Fathers.

Si caecus cae­co ducatum praestet ambo in foveam ca­dunt Mat. 15. If one blind Man lead another, says the Son of God, they will both fall into the Ditch. How much more if one blind Man lead himself in a Way he knows not.Vae soli, quia cum ceciderit non habet sub­levantem se. Eccl. 4. Wo be to him who goeth alone, says Solomon, because if he fall he hath no one to help him. For this reason in the Proverbs he often ad­monishes young PersonsNe innitaris prudentiae tuae. Prov. 5. Not to trust to their own Conduct: for he is unwise who re­lies upon his own Judgment. Qui confidit in corde suo stultus. Prov. 28. Via stulti re­cta in oculis ejus, qui au­tem sapiens est audit con­silia. Prov. 2. It is the pro­perty of Fools to believe themselves, and the wise Man hearkens to counsel. Good Toby Instructing his Son, gave him this Adver­tisement among others;Consilium semper à sapi­ente perquire. Tob. 4. Seek always Coun­sel from a wise Man. Ecclesiasticus hath already said above, That when you see a prudent and understanding Man, you must take great care to receive his Instructions, and to be frequently with him. But a­bove all, take the Counsel he gives you in Chap. 37.

Cum viro fancto assidu­us esso, quem­cunque obser­vantem timo­rem Domini cognoveris, cujus anima sit secundum animam tuam, qui cum titu­baveris in te­nebris condo­lebit tibi. Eccl. 37. Converse, says he, constantly with a pi­ous Man, whom you know to have the fear of God, whose Mind hath a sympathy with yours, that is, who mutually love one another, and who will compassionate your Misfortune, if you chance to trip in the dark; giving you assistance that you fall not, or raising you [Page 107]if you be fall'n. By this you see not only the necessity of a Guide in the Way of Vertue, but the Qualities he ought to have, clearly exprest; viz. That he is to be a vertuous Man; That he have an Af­fection for the Salvation of him whom he Directs, and one who may support him when he is in danger of falling, and by con­sequence, that he have Prudence and Knowledge requisite for that Design.

St. Jerome following these Maxims of Sacred Scripture, gives the same Counsel to young Men desirous to advance them­selves in Vertue.Mihi placet ut habeas san­ctorum contu­bernium, nec ipse te doceas, & absque do­ctore ingredi­aris viam quam nun­quam ingres­sus es: statim­que tibi in partem alte­ram declinan­dum sit, & errori pateas, plusque aut minus ambulans quam ne­cesse sit; ne aut currens lasseris, aut moram faciens obdormias. S. Jer. Epist. ad Ruffinum. My Advice, says he, is, that you Converse with Men of Piety. Be not your own Master, nor enter a Way unknown to you without a Guide, lest you should mistake your Rode, and perish in your wan­dring; or going faster or slower than need requires, you be tir'd with your haste, and so return, or fall asteep in your Journey. This is then, dear Theotime, a very important Admonition, which after St. Jerome and the Fathers, I give you here.

Make choice of a discreet and vertu­ous Confessor, to whom commit the Con­duct of your Conscience: Let him be a Person who is able to Direct you in the Path of Vertue, who is able to Teach you the true Maxims of Piety; Discover to you the things you ought to perform, and [Page 108]those you must avoid; Reduce you into the Way when you are gone out of the Road; Raise you when you shall fall; Advertise you of the Dangers you are likely to run into; Teach you how to resist Tempta­tions, and cure your ill Habits; Encou­rage you in Vertue; Awake you when you are sleepy in the Way, and withhold you from running too fast, lest you should fall from your first Zeal and Fervour into Remissness, and from Remissness into Vice, which easily happens to young People. These are the Benefits you will receive from your Director, and you will have need of him for all these things.

For this Effect declare unto him from time to time your Conscience,Practice. let him know clearly your State, conceal nothing of your interior Inclination, have a great Respect for him, as for a Man by whom God Speaks to you and Directs you; Put a confidence in his Conduct and Counsels, hearken attentively to his Admonitions, be exact in putting in practice his Advices, give him an Account of the Use you have made of them;A remarkable Advice. Be not asham'd to disco­ver unto him all your Sins; and chiefly have a care of falling into the fault of many, who having committed a greater Sin than usually, go to Confess themselves to another, out of a foolish Shame they have to declare their Sins to their ordinary Confessor. To do this, is to render the Conduct of a Ghostly Father entirely un­profitable, and to take the way to fall into [Page 109]many Sins, and at the end to be utterly lost. No, no, Theotime, you must bear towards your Confessor the Confidence of a Child towards his Father, of a sick Person towards his Physician, to discover all that is within you equally both good and bad.

But to find this so necessary a Director, you must demand him of God: Beg of him from the bottom of your Heart, that he make you meet with a good one, and without question he will comply with your Request. Ask also the Counsel of some prudent and vertuous Person, and when you have found him, change him not easily without necessity; and if he chance to fail you either by Death or change of Dwelling, or otherwise, make choice readily of another.

O h eotime, how happy would you be, if you liv'd in this manner; you would walk with assurance in the Path of Salva­tion, and would advance very much there­in; whereas going without a Guide, you will always be in danger of stragling out of the Way and being lost.

Call to mind one remarkable thing,4 Reg. 12. 2 Paral. 24. which the Scripture recounts of King Joas. That King had been Educated by the High Priest Joiada in the Fear of God,A considerable Example. Instructed in his Law, and Directed in the Way of Vertue from the Age of Seven Years till after Forty; During all this time he liv'd holily, and the Scripture at­tributes the Cause to the Conduct of that [Page 110]pious Man.4 Reg. 12. Fecitque Joas rectum coram Domino cun­ctis diebus quibus docuit eum Joiada Sacerdos. Joas, says the Scripture, car­ry'd himself vertuously all the time that he was Instructed by Joiada the High Priest. But he did not continue always in that State: For Joiada being Deceas'd, that misfortunate Prince being no longer re­strain'd by the good Corrections and pru­dent Counsels of his Religious Master, gave himself over to Licentiousness, and to the Disorders of a wicked Life; by which he drew upon himself many Dis­asters, and a miserable Death, which God sent him presently after. This Example will teach you what value you ought to set on a good Master in the Way of Ver­tue.

Of Confession, and first of a General Confession.

PEnance being a Sacrament Instituted by Jesus Christ to blot out the Sins of Christians,Sixth Means, a General Con­fession. and to restore them to the Grace of God. There is no question but it is a very prositable Means, and necessary to acquire Vertue and Sanctity, which ought to begin by the cleansing ones self from Vice.

Now to the end this Means may prove more profitable to you, I advise you to begin with a General Confession of all your Life; And this for Three Reasons.

First, Because it frequently happens, that the precedent Confessions were inva­lid: As when one has conceal'd therein any mortal Sin, which falls out but too often to young People; or when one Con­fesses himself with too little Preparation, without Sorrow for his Sins, and without Resolution of Amendment. In these Cases a General Confession is necessary.

Secondly, Because altho' one see not an evident Invalidity in the former Con­fessions, yet nevertheless there is reason to have some doubt, because of many De­fects with which they ordinarily abound, thro' the Negligence of Penitents, who Confess themselves with very little Prepa­ration, almost without any Sorrow, and without any Amendment. The General Confession supplies these Defects, and when it is well perform'd, secures the Conscience.

Thirdly, If it be not at all necessary, it will be always very profitable; for Three great Benefits you will receive thereby: The one is in respect of your Self, the other on your Confessor's side, and the Third in regard of God.

First, In respect of your Self, bringing your past Life before your Eyes, it makes you know how far you are remov'd from the Way of your Salvation; humble your self before God in the acknowledgment of your Misery, take notice of your de­prav'd Inclinations to correct them, con­ceive a desire of Amendment, and dedi­cate [Page 112]your self entirely to Almighty God.

Secondly, On your Confessor's side; It serves to give him a perfect knowledge of your Conscience, that he may better Direct you, and give you Advice according to your Necessity.

Thirdly, And in fine, in regard of God, it will avail to merit from him more abundant Favours for your perfect Con­version, which he will communicate to you by so much moreCor contri­tum & humili­atum non de­spiciet Deus. Psal. 50. as he shall see you humbled before him, and penitent for your Offences.

To perform well this Confession, see what you are to observe.

First,The End of a General Con­fession. Let the Mark or But at which you aim, be the amendment of your Life, and withdrawing your self from Sin, to put your self absolutely in the Way of Vertue.

Secondly,Preparation. Prepare your self Seven or Eight Days before; and during that time, employ your self in Two things. 1. Call to mind your Sins. 2. Conceive a great Sorrow, and a firm Resolution to change your Life.

To accomplish the first, employ some time every Day to Examine your self, following the Order of the Command­ments of God and of the Church, and up­on the Seven Capital Sins. For the great­er facility make use of some Book of Con­fession, and write down every Day what you shall take notice of.

But let your Labor be chiefly about the Second Part, viz. Contrition;Contrition. which is the most necessary and most difficult;Second Means to obtain Con­trition. and that for which one is ordinarily least pre­par'd. Here we must employ, 1. Prayer to obtain it of God. 2. The Reading of things which may cause a horror for Sin, and a desire to Serve God; But this must be a fervent Prayer, and a serious and at­tentive Reading.

Withdraw your self once or twice a day into a private Place, and there pro­strate your self before God, beseeching him humbly and ardently, that he would bestow upon you a Heart and Grace to ap­prehend perfectly the grievousness of Sin, and the Injury it offers to his infinite Good­ness, and to have a true Contrition for them, and absolutely depart from them by a serious Repentance, and a perfect Change of your Life.

Afterwards apply your self to the Read­ing of some Book which may discover to you the horror of Sin, and the importance of retiring your self from it. You will find many; I advise you chiefly to make use of Granado's Memorial in the First Part, where he hath an excellent Preparation for a General Confession: Read that, or some other which you have, with much Atten­tion, taking every time one or two Cha­pters only, which you shall read often, and meditate attentively upon them, endea­vouring to stir up by the things you read, a hatred for Sin, a horror for having com­mitted [Page 114]it, deploring your Misery, and demanding of God Pardon for your Of­fences, and Grace to free your self from them.

The Day of your Confession being come, after having beg'd of God the Grace to perform well this Action of so great importance, approach to the Sacra­ment with a profound Respect, with a great Recollection of Mind, and with much Sorrow of Heart for having offend­ed God. Accuse your self of your Sins humbly and plainly: After your Accusa­tion, protest to your Confessor, that you detest them with all your Heart, and prin­cipally by reason of the infinite Goodness of God, whom you have heinously offend­ed; that you humbly beg Pardon, and are resolv'd to die rather than offend him any more; entreating him that he will In­struct you in the necessary Remedies a­gainst Sin, that you may fall no more, and the Means from thenceforward to live in Vertue and the Fear of God. This being done, hearken attentively to what he shall say, not thinking of any thing else. And when you shall be upon the point of recei­ving Absolution, recollect your Spirit within you, and humbling your self pro­foundly before God, renew all the Sorrow you might have had for your Sins, and im­plore his Mercy, that he would Absolve you in Heaven at the same time that the Priest Absolves you on his part upon Earth.

O blessed Day, Theotime, wherein you are freed from the State of Sin, and Power of the Devil, to be admitted into the number of the Children of God, and for ever to Serve him faithfully.

But have a care to make this Confes­sion profitable, and not to forget it pre­sently, as it happens to many, who after­wards scarce ever think of it, and so return to their former Life. Have a care to re­new daily in the Morning the Sorrow for having offended God, and the Resolution you have made not to Displease him any more upon any account whatsoever.

Of Ordinary Confession.

THAT Confession is not only a very profitable Means, but absolutely ne­cessary to keep Man in the Path of Ver­tue, is a Truth made manifest by Experi­ence, which discovers, That those who practice not frequently this Divine Re­medy, relapse soon into their first Distem­pers, and into the Sins they had forsaken. So that, Theotime, you must hold it for an undoubted Maxim, That if you have a true Design to live in Vertue, you must fre­quently approach to the Sacrament of Penance; and if not, you will never be difengag'd from Vice, not from the Way of Perdition; which I shall clearly disco­ver by the following Reasons.

First,First Reason. Because altho' you may be some time without falling into mortal Sin, ne­vertheless without frequent Confession you cannot avoid a great number of other Sins, which being multiply'd and neglected, lead to mortal Sin.

Secondly,Second Reason. Without frequent Confes­sion you may be secretly engag'd in wick­ed Habits, which you will not believe to be such, and will be expos'd to many dan­gerous Occasions, from which you cannot guard your self, unless you be Admonish'd. Now you cannot be Advertis'd, but by often discovering your Conscience to a discreet Confessor, who will take notice of them, and give you warning to avoid them.

Thirdly,Third Reason. It is impossible that you should continue a long time without being as­saulted by Temptations, and principally against Chastity: Now I maintain, that it is impossible you should resist them with­out frequent Confession. Do what you will, if you make not often use of this Re­medy, you will infallibly be subdu'd, Ex­perience will make you see it. He that neglects Help, will fall into Sickness, and from Sickness come to Death.

Fourthly,Fourth Reason. Confession, Theotime, is a Help and Remedy against Sin. 1. Because it being a Sacrament, it gives Grace to re­sist it. 2. Because it makes us renew the Detestation of Sin, and the Resolution not to commit it any more. 3. Because the Admonitions of the Ghostly Father in Con­fession [Page 117]awake the Penitent, and encourage him anew to fly from Sin, and to be faithful to God. 4. Because the Penitent declaring his Temptations to his Confessor, learns from him the Means to resist them; yea, this only discovering the Temptations, is an effectual Remedy to overcome them. The malignant Spirit fears nothing so much as to be discover'd; He is a Serpent which hides himself when he would bite, and flies away when he is perceiv'd; He is a right Thief, who hath no mind to ap­pear in open day; and he hath no greater Policy to destroy young Souls, than to make them be silent in the Affairs of their Conscience, and to hinder them from ma­nifesting to any one the State of their Soul, to the end, that in this pernicious Silence they may find no Help to resist their Tem­ptations, nor Means to withdraw them­selves from their Vices.Peccatum proditum citò curatur, cri­men vero ta­cendo ampli­atur; vitium si patet fit ex magno pusillum, si latet, fit ex minimo magnum. S. Bern. Serm. de interiori domo, cap. 37. Sin (says S. Ber­nard) is soon cur'd when it is declar'd; but it encreases by silence; If one discover it, from great it becomes little; and if one conceal it, of little it becomes great.

After these Reasons I doubt not, dear Theotime, but that you are fully convinc'd of the necessity of Confessing often; and being this is an Affair of great Conse­quence, and a Man commits many Faults therein, I have many Advices to give [Page 118]you, which I beseech you read attentively, and take notice of them well.

Important Advices concerning Confession.

First,First Advice. Confess your self at least once a Month, without failing therein. If you have frequent Temptations, you ought to Confess oftner, and principally at the time wherein you perceive the Temptations begin to assault you most strongly. Fake notice well of this Advice, for it is of great importance, and for want of practising it, many relapse miserably into Sin.

Secondly,Second Advice. Have a care of falling into that Offence of many, who never think of Confessing themselves, but when they have yielded to a Temptation. It is a deplo­rable Abuse by which the Devil misfortu­nately seduces many Souls: For what a great folly is it, not to apply ones thoughts to a Remedy, till after he is fall'n into a mortal Distemper, when it might have been prevented by Help in time? accord­ing to the Counsel of the Wiseman,Eccl. 15. Ante languorem adhibe medicinam; Apply the Remedy to prevent the Distemper.

Thirdly,Third Advice. Have a care also of another greater Fault of those, who having been subdu'd by a Temptation, instead of quick­ly raising themselves, and having recourse to the Sacrament of Penance, permit themselves to yield to all Occasions, neg­lecting to Confess themselves, whether for fear, remissness, or negligence of their [Page 119]Salvation, until the Occurrence of some great Feast obliges them thereunto. This Abuse is common amongst young Persons, and the Cause that many fall back after good Resolutions, and often relapse pre­sently after into Vice. We must not lose Courage for having fall'n, but raise our selves presently, and make use of that Slip for our Advantage, and stand better on our Guard for the future.

Fourthly,Fourth Advice. Confess your self usually to your ordinary Confessor as often as you can; so that nevertheless if you find him not, you go to another, and let not his Absence be the Cause of your failing to Confess your self, when there is a Rea­son for it.

Fifthly,Fisth Advice. Be assur'd that the Devil will use all his Endeavors to hinder you from Confessing often; he will oppose all Ob­stacles imaginable: Sometimes he will make you believe it is too much trouble, sometimes that you are not sufficiently prepar'd, sometimes that you have no need; at another time he makes some Business fall out; oftentimes he will raise up some Disgust against Confession; sometimes, and very frequently, he will endeavor to withdraw you from it by a certain foolish Shame, which he is accustom'd to stir up in those of your Age, by which he makes them blush to perform Acts of Piety. A thousand other Impediments will he sug­gest to hinder you from so prositable and necessary a Means of your Salvation. But [Page 120]in the Name of God, Theotime, pass by all these Hindrances, and look upon all those Thoughts, which aim at withdrawing you from Confession, as Temptation of the Devil.

Now to Confess well, endeavor to ob­serve diligently that which follows.

1.Means to Con­fess well. Examine your Conscience the best you can concerning Sins to which you are most inclin'd.

2. After Examination stir up in your self a Sorrow for having offended God, and beg Pardon of him with all your Heart.

3. Approach to Confession with much Respect and Modesty, representing to your self that you are going to appear before God, as before your Judge, to implore his Mercy; And if you be ob­lig'd to expect, before you can be Con­fess'd, keep your self in an humble and modest Posture, Praying or Reading some good Book.

4. Declare your Sins humbly and plain­ly, making your Confessor understand them clearly. There are some who Con­fess but half their Sins, and expect that the Confessor should ask the rest; This is a great Abuse, which frequently makes the Confessions null, and Sacrilegious.

5. Have a great care never to conceal a mortal Sin in Confession thro' Shame or otherwise. That is a very heinous Of­fence, which often happens to young Per­sons, and particularly for certain Sins of Impurity, which they dare not discover, [Page 121]by a misfortunate Bashfulness, which makes them frequently commit great Sa­crileges, and keeps them in a continual State of mortal Sin. O Theotime, never fall into that Disaster by which the Devil seduces, and miserably destroys young Persons.

6. Seek not by your Confessions to be esteem'd by your Ghostly Father, but to be cur'd of your Sins, and directed by him in the Way of Salvation.

7. Having made your Confession, give ear attentively to the Admonitions of your Ghostly Father, and to the Advice he shall give you, and imitate not many, who think of nothing but calling to mind their Sins, while the Confessor speaks to them; Have a care of this Fault, for it is com­mon, and makes one lose almost all the Fruit of Confession.

8. Before your Ghostly Father gives you Absolution, and also whilst he shall pronounce it, beg Pardon of God for your Sins with much Sorrow and Regret for ha­ving committed them, with a firm Reso­lution, by the assistance of his Grace, to endeavor to Amend. You must detest mortal Sins as infinitely opposite to the Goodness of God, and your Salvation; and for others you must be sorry, because they are displeasing to God, and always have a Resolution to correct them in your self as much as you can.

9. Perform your Penance punctually and devoutly.

10. Accustom your self on the Day of your Confession, to make Reflection upon the principal Sins into which you have fall'n, that you may amend them: Call to mind also the Advices your Ghostly Fa­ther shall have given you, and purpose to put them in Practice.

Of Holy Communion.

OUR Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ had so great a desire of our Sanctification and Eternal Happiness, that he was not satisfi'd with the Institution of the Sacrament of Penance, wherein he left Power to his Apostles to remit our Sins, but by Incomprehensible Excess of his Love, he hath left us the most Blessed Sa­crament of the Eucharist, wherein he really gives himself for the Nourishment of our Souls, to conserve them in the Life of Grace, to cure them of their Distem­pers, to strengthen them in their Weak­nesses, and conduct them happily unto Life Eternal.

From whence it follows, That the Holy Communion is a necessary Means for those who aspire to Vertue, and that those who have a true desire of their Salvation, ought to make themselves worthy to approach frequently unto it.Nisi mandu­caveritis car­nem filii ho­minis, & bibe­ritis ejus san­guinem, non habebitis vi­tam in vobis. Joh. 6. Ʋnless you eat, saith he himself, the Flesh of the Son of man, and drink his Blood, you shall have no life in you.

It is from this Living Fountain of Di­vine Graces, dear Theotime, from whence you may abundantly draw all the Favours and Vertues that are necessary for you. You seek after Wisdom, and here you re­ceive the Eternal Wisdom in his proper Person. You desire Purity, and here you receive Purity it self. You want Force to conserve Vertue amidst the Dangers and Impediments of this Life, and you receive here the Author of all Graces, who can defend you against every thing that oppo­ses it self to your Salvation.

This being so, you must approach to it frequently, and not refuse the Grace of this Divine Saviour, who with such an ad­mirable Love gives himself to you. Now he evidently manifests that he hath no de­sire of his Salvation, who neglects so effe­ctual and wholsom a Means, which contains nothing less than the Author of Salvation.

Altho' a general Time for Communion cannot be prescrib'd, because it depends upon the particular State of every one, yet I shall tell you, that it is seasonable to Communicate ordinarily once a Month. If you confess oftner than once a Month, as we have said above, may be sometimes expedient for you, you shall take the Ad­vice of your Ghostly Father concerning Communion, who sometimes will counsel it, when he sees you profit thereby, and have an earnest desire to approach there­unto: Sometimes also he will think it con­venient to defer it till another time, to [Page 124]prepare your self the better for an Action of such high Consequence.

Now being that all the Fruit of Com­munion depends upon Communicating with requisite Dispositions, these are the Advices you shall observe to Communicate well; mark them carefully, and read them every time you come to Communion.

An Advice for Communicating well.

PRepare your self the best that is possi­ble.First thing to be done to Com­municate well. Beg of God in your Morning Prayers, and the Night before, the Grace to prepare your self to Receive him wor­thily. All the Morning keep your Mind much recollected, by reflecting upon the great Action you are about to perform, and say often within your self that which David said when he made the Preparati­ons for the Building of a Temple for God. Grande opus est, 1 Par. 29. non enim homini praeparatur habitatio, sed Deo. It is a great Work wherein one prepares a Dwelling not for Man, but for God. It is Jesus Christ, Theotime, true God, and true Man, for whom you prepare an Habitation in your Soul, you must then prepare one worthy of him.

Be diligent to go to the Church to of­fer your Prayers to God,Second. and Confess your self; wherein you shall ask of your Con­fessor, whether he think it convenient you [Page 125]should Communicate, and if he judge it fit, you shall prepare your self in this manner.

Take about half an Hour before Com­munion,Third Prepara­tion for Com­munion. wherein recollecting your thoughts within your self, you shall per­form that which follows. 1. Humble your self profoundly before our Lord Jesus Christ, acknowledging your self un­worthy to receive him; Unworthy by rea­son of his Greatness and Sanctity; Un­worthy by reason of your own Sins. Er­gone credibile est, ut habitet Deus cum homi­nibus? Is it therefore possible (said Solomon, having built the Temple) that God should dwell amongst Men? 2. Beg of him Par­don for your Sins, which make you un­worthy to Receive him. 3. Implore his Grace to Receive him worthily, that is, with a pure Conscience, with a lively Faith, with a profound Humility, with an ardent love of his Goodness, and with an inviolable Resolution to Serve him all your Life. If you know any Prayers for Com­munion, say them, but with Attention and Feeling.

The time of Communion being come, leave all your vocal Prayers, approach mo­destly to the Altar, with your Eyes cast down, not looking on one side or the other, nor pressing to come first, but let­ting the Crowd pass, if there be any. Be­ing upon your Knees, Adore our Lord from the bottom of your Heart; and after ha­ving said the Confiteor, and Domine non sum dignus, with a true Sentiment of your own [Page 126]unworthiness, with a firm Faith, and most profound Humility, Receive the God of Heaven, and the Saviour of your Soul.

Being retir'd from the Altar, say not presently your Vocal Prayers upon your Book, but entertain your self some time inwardly with your Saviour which you enjoy within you. 1. Adore him pro­foundly. 2. Admire his Goodness, to come and Visit you himself, saying to him that which St. Elizabeth said to the B. Virgin, Whence proceeds this honor, Et unde hoc mihi, ut veni­at mater Do­mini ad me? Luc. 1. that my God comes to visit me? Acknowledge that you are undeserving that Favour. 3. Demand Pardon for your Sins, and Sorrow for ha­ving offended God, who gives Himself to you with so much Love and Bounty. Pro­test to him,Diligam te, Domine, for­titudo mea, Dominus fir­mamentum meum, & re­fugium me­um, & libera­tor meus. Psal. 17. that you will always love him, and never separate your self from him again. 4. Represent unto him the Ne­cessities of your Soul, begging of him the Graces you have most need of, to resist Temptations, to avoid wicked Company, and Occasions of offending God, and ru­ining your self, and to cure your deprav'd Habits. 5. Give him thanks for the Fa­vor he hath done you, in admitting you to receive him; and in acknowledgment of his Benefit, offer him your Soul, your Powers, your Life, all that you have, and all you can do to Love and Serve him for ever. All this must be perform'd in a short time, but with much servor.

Return modestly from the Church, and make all the rest of the Day relish of this [Page 127]pious Action. Be extreme modest in all you do; Be present at the Sermon and Evensong, if you can, and employ some Hours in reading good Books. Converse not much with others, except with pious Persons. Entertain your self with Reli­gious Discourses, and let this be your chiefest Recreation all that Day.

Of Morning Prayer.

COnfession and Communion are very essicacious Means to acquire Vertue,Ninth Means, Morning Prayer. but they become unprofitable and of small effect, unless they be accompany'd with these which follow: Morning and Even­ing Prayer, Assisting devoutly at the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, Employing ones Time in the knowledge of ones self, Read­ing good Books, and pious Conversati­ons, are Means so necessary for Vertue, that Respiration and Nourishment are not more needful for the support of the Cor­poral Life, than these things are necessary for the Conservation of Piety, which is the Life of the Soul.

I begin with Morning Prayer, which the Wiseman, amongst the Means he as­signs to obtain Wisdom, recommends so effectually unto you.Cor suum tradet ad vi­gilandum di­luculo, ad Do­minum qui fe­cit eum & in conspectu al­tissimi deprecabitur, aperiet os suum in oratione, & pro delictis suis deprecabitur. Eccl. 39.6. He shall give his Heart to watch in the Morning for God his Creator, and he will offer up his Deprecations [Page 128]to the most High. He will open his Mouth in Prayer, and implore Pardon for his Sins.

I would to God this excellent Docu­ment were deeply engraven in the Minds of Men, and principally of young Persons, as one of the most important to live in Vertue. If you truly aspire to Vertue, dear Theotime, you will have a great care to practise this Instruction, which is one of the most necessary you can receive.

We own unto God all our Actions, but chiefly the first in the Morning; it is that which is most agreeable unto him, it is by that we consecrate others unto him: By it we attract the Divine Blessings upon all our Works, and collect the Divine Grace for all the Day; As the Israelites in the Desert gather'd in the Morning the Manna of Heaven which maintain'd them all the Day.

And that which is most remarkable in that Manna, is, that those who fail'd to ga­ther it in the Morning, found it not pre­sently after, because it was melted at the rising of the Sun, whereof the Scripture gives this excellent Reason, viz. That God who made it Rain every Morning, caus'd it to be dissolv'd with the first Beams of the Sun;Quod enim ab igne non poterat ex­terminari, sta­tim ab exiguo radio solis ca­lefactum ta­bescebat, ut notum omni­bus esset, quo­niam oportet praevenire so­lem ad tuam benedictio­nem, & ad ortum solis to adorare. Sap. 18. To teach all Men, that they ought to prevent the Sun in Praising God, and Adoring him in the Morning.

But remember, Theotime, to perform this Action in the manner the Wiseman prescribes to you; for he would not have it a constrain'd, negligent and undevout Prayer, but a Prayer with the quite con­trary Qualities: He saith, that The wise Man will give his Heart (that is, will ap­ply his Will and Affection) to watch in the Morning for God his Creator; that is to say, will give his first Thoughts to God, to Adore him as his Creator, and give him Thanks for all his Benefits, will offer his Supplications in the sight of the most High; that is, will consider the Greatness of God, to whom he speaks, and in the Presence of whom he is, and considering the infinite Grandeur of the Majesty of God, will at­tentively offer his Prayers to him, and humbly, with great Modesty, and with a most profound Respect, begging of God Pardon for his Sins, and ardently sighing after his holy Favors.

To put in Execution these Instructions,Practice. have a care to practise that which follows. Every Morning, as soon as you are up, cast your self upon your Knees in some place a little retir'd, and there,

1. Adore God from your Heart, ac­knowledging him for your Sovereign Ma­ster and Creator, and looking upon him as one from whom you receive all that you are, or have.

2. Give him Thanks for all the Benefits you have receiv'd from him; for the Fa­vor of your Creation, of your Redem­ption [Page 130]by the Merits of his Son Jesus Christ, of making you a Christian, a Child of the Catholic Church, of Instructing you with the necessary Truths for your Salvation, and of other particular Benefits which you shall take notice of in your self.

3. Humbly implore his Pardon for all the Sins of your Life past, by which you have so much offended his Bounty, and abus'd his Favors.

4. Beg of him the Grace to employ that Day in his Service without offending him; Make a Resolution rather to die than consent to a mortal Sin; Purpose to avoid the Occasions, and endeavor to foresee those which may happen that Day, to the end you may be armed against them.

5. Offer all the Actions of the Day to him, and beseech him that he would bless them, inspire you, and direct you in all your Works, that you do nothing but by and for him.

Recommend your self to the Blessed Virgin, to your good Angel, and to your Patron. Perform all this in a small time, but with much fervor; and be assur'd, Theotime, that if you be diligent in this Exercise, you will find the Truth of the Wiseman's Expression, who says, thatQui mane vigilaverint ad me, inveni­ent me. Prov. 8. They who watch for her in the Morning, shall find her.

Of Evening Prayer.

IF it be a Business of Importance to begin well the Day,Tenth Means, Evening Prayer. it is of no less to finish it perfectly. In the ancient Law God had not only commanded a Sacrifice for every Morning, but also for every Night, to teach us, that as we ought to Adore him in the beginning of the Day, so we owe him our Acknowledgment at the end of the Day.

The principal part of this Action is the Examen of Conscience,The Advanta­ges of Examen of Conscience at Night. which is a thing wherein you ought not to fail, if you se­riously desire to advance in Vertue. 1. It is a powerful Means to cure ill Habits, to avoid the relapse into Sin, or readily to clear ones self of them. 2. It helps to discover the Faults one has committed to amend them, and preserve ones self from them, to continue a hatred of mortal Sin, and a Will not to commit it any more. 3. Without this Exercise we fall into many Offences, which being neglected lead us to mortal Sin; we are lull'd asleep in Sin, without a desire or thought of free­ing our selves. 4. By this Exercise, or­dinary Confessions are made more easie and frequent, we amend our Lives, we prevent an unprovided Death, we prepare our selves for Death, Judgment, and E­ternity; And it is in this Action that we [Page 132]excellently well practise that admirable Document of the Wiseman;Ante judi­cium interro­ga teipsum & in conspectu Dei invenies propitiatio­nem. Eccl. 18. Before Judgment Examine your self, and you will find Mercy when you are in the sight of God.

Have a care then, Theotime, daily to perform this so holy and important an Exercise, wherein take notice of the Or­der you shall observe.

At Night being upon your Knees before you go to Bed,

1. Adore God, and give him Thanks for all his Favours, and particularly for having conserv'd you that Day, and pre­serv'd you from Misfortunes which might have befall'n you.

2. Beg of him the Grace of seeing the Sins you have committed that Day, to demand Pardon of him, and amend your Life.

3. Examine your Conscience concern­ing the Sins you most ordinarily fall into. For this effect, pass over in your Memory the principal Actions you have done from Morning till Night, and take notice of the Faults you may have committed therein. Recollect your self, whether you have had any Temptations that Day; Examine how you have behav'd your self in them, whe­ther you have readily resisted them, or with negligence. Take notice of what Company you have been in, and whether at the same time you have acted any thing indecently, either by giving ill Example in Word or Deed; or not hindring others wicked Actions, when you might divert [Page 133]them. Consider whether you have em­ploy'd well your time all day, or unprofi­tably lost it, and so of the rest.

4. After you have taken notice of the Sins you have committed, stir up in your self a Sorrow for them, humbly beg Par­don of God for them, make a Resolution to correct your self the Day following, and keep them in your Memory to Con­fess them at your first Confession.

If amongst these Sins there should be a­ny that by misfortune were mortal, O God, Theotime, rise not up from your Prayers till you have abundantly deplor'd your Misery, and conceiv'd an extreme Regret for having so grievously offended so holy and adorable a God. Beg of him Pardon with all the the Contrition of your Heart, and protest unto him that you will Con­fess it as soon as possible, and to Morrow if you can.

5. Recommend unto God your Soul and your Body; Desire him that he will Preserve you from all Misfortunes that Night, and principally from Sin. Offer your Prayers to the Blessed Virgin, your Angel-Guardian, your Patron, and all the Saints together.An important Advice. And as at the beginning of the Day you demanded of God the Grace to Live well, so at the end remember to beg of him the Grace to Die well. The End we make of every Day, is an Image of the End we shall one Day make of our Life. Finish therefore every Day as you would one Day finish your Life.

Of Assisting devoutly at the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar.

THE most holy and adorable Sacri­fice of the Altar,Eleventh Means. is the greatest of all our Mysteries, and the most excellent Action of our Religion: It is a Sacrifice which our Saviour Jesus Christ hath Insti­tuted, wherein by the real Oblation of his Body and Blood. 1. We give God the greatest Honor he can receive. 2. We worthily return him Thanks for his Be­nefits. 3. We render him propitious to pardon our Offences. 4. We obtain his Graces and Favors; And that which the ancient Law did by four sorts of Sacrifices, we perform, and that more perfectly, by this alone, which is altogether Latreutick, that is, Honouring God; Eucharistick, that is, Thanksgiving; Propitiatory, Ren­dring God Favourable; and Impetratory, Obtaining Graces from him.

They who are present at this Holy Sa­crifice, partake of these four sorts of Ef­fects, and receive great Advantages there­by, supposing they Hear it as they ought.

To Assist at it therefore as we ought, Three things are necessary, Attention, Respect, and Devotion. Attention, To have the Mind present, and attentive to the Di­vine Action. Respect, To be present with a great Modesty as to the Exterior, and a [Page 135]profound Reverence of the Soul at this adorable Sacrifice, at which the Angels themselves Assist with fear and trembling. Devotion, Not to Hear it negligently and by custom, as many times we do, but on Design to partake of the four Effects of this Sacrifice, viz. To give him Thanks for his Favors; To implore his Mercy for our Sins; To demand Favors, and chiefly that of Converting our Selves en­tirely to him; And to live for ever in his Service.

Endeavour then, Theotime, to be present daily as much as you can, at this sublime Sacrifice; but be mindful to be present with the three Dispositions we spoke of, Attention, Respect, and Devotion. There are many different Ways prescrib'd to Assist devoutly at this Holy Sacrifice; but supposing you be present with these three Conditions, and perform therein those four Things we took notice of, Adoring God there profoundly, Begging Pardon of him, Rendring him Thanks for his Fa­vors, and Imploring his Grace for your felf and others; This is the most profita­ble Method you can follow.

These Four Things ought to be per­form'd principally after the Consecration, until Communion; and for the time that goes before Consecration, you may em­ploy it in reciting some Prayers, or if you be capable in following the Priest, in all he shall say or do in every part of the Sacrifice: That is, in begging Pardon of [Page 136]God with him during the Introit and Kyrie eleison, making humble Suit to him during the Prayers, hearkning attentively to the Epistle and Gospel, representing unto your self Jesus Christ who speaks unto you, en­deavouring to keep in your Memory what Instruction you receive from his holy Word; At Credo making Profession of Faith with the Priest, at the Offertory Of­fering with him, at the Preface when he says Sursum corda, raising your Heart to God to keep you more attentive, and disposing your self to Adore our Saviour at the Consecration, and performing the Four Things we have spoken of.

Of Labor and Employment of Time.

IT is not sufficient to begin well,Twelfth Means. and pi­ously end the Day in the manner we have said; we must also employ it profita­bly in some vertuous Labor, there being nothing so contrary to Vertue, nor more a Friend to Vice than Idleness, principally in young Persons, as we shall shew you hereafter, Part 3. Chap. 7. Wherefore, Theotime, if you sincerely desire to live in Vertue, you must add this Means to the former, and be perswaded that to live vertuously, it is absolutely necessary for you to fly Idleness, and bestow your Pains faithfully in the Employment of your Condition.

Hearken to me, Son, says the Wiseman,Audi me, fili, & ne spernas me, & in no­vissimo inve­nies verba mea; in om­nibus operi­bus tuis esto velox, & om­nis infirmitas non accedet tibi. Eccl. 31. and contemn not my Admonitions, and you will find how profitable they will be to you in the end. Be prompt and diligent in all your Works, and by this you will avoid all sorts of Infirmities. Idleness causes many Distem­pers of the Body, which weaken its For­ces; it heaps up many ill Humors, which corrupts it: But it brings many more, and far more dangerous, to the Soul, which it makes apt to receive all manner of Vices; For as Exercise is necessary for the Health of the Body, so Employment and Labor are needful for the Health of the Soul; for it is impossible to conserve it without that Means.

Have a care then, Theotime, Practice. diligently to employ your self every Day in the La­bor of the Condition wherein God has put you: Look not upon it as a thing trouble­som, painful, or tedious, but as an Exer­cise bestow'd on you by God, to employ your self therein faithfully, and as a neces­sary Means of your Salvation, to avoid Idleness, which is the Mother of all Vices, and the Cause of the Ruine of young Peo­ple. Offer it to God every Morning; and when you begin, beseech him he would give a Blessing to it, and that it may suc­ceed to his Glory and your Salvation.

Now if this Advice be necessary in all the Conditions wherein the Lives of diffe­rent Men are spent, it is most of all ne­cessary in the Profession of Students. If you are call'd thereto, you ought to em­ploy [Page 138]your self therein more faithfully than in any other Condition; not only because God hath placed you in that Exercise, and that it is a Means to avoid Idleness; but al­so because if you be negligent in this State, you lose the Time proper to learn in, which is that of Youth, which you can ne­ver repair: You lose the Occasion of ren­dring your self capable of any Employ­ment, as we see it daily happens to many, who having lost their Time during their Studies, continue slothful and unprofitable all the rest of their Life, and many times become vicious and wicked. O Theotime, you ought to make a great Scruple of lo­sing this so precious a Time: You shall give an exact account thereof at the Judg­ment of God.Si quis ig­norat, ignora­bitur. 1 Cor. 14. Qui vitat di­scere, incidet in mala. Prov. 17.16. The ignorant shall be uu­known, and he who refuseth to learn shall fall into many Misfortunes.

Of the Knowledge of ones self, very necessary for young People.

AMongst all the Means which conduce to Vertue,Thirteenth Means. the Knowledge of ones self is one of the most important. And it is so necessary, that it is impossible to at­tain to Vertue without it. For this Rea­son it hath always been so much recom­mended by Authors who have written of a Christian Life; And the Pagans them­selves [Page 139]have always had it in much Esteem, having receiv'd as an Instruction come from Heaven, these two Words, which were written upon the Gate of the Tem­ple of Apollo at Delphos, [...], Know thy self.

By this Knowledge is to be understood a serious and frequent Reflection which one makes of himself, to take notice of the Inclinations of the Soul, the Passions which bear dominion there, the Vices which spring up or encrease, that he may correct them with convenient Remedies, according to the measure that he per­ceives them.

This Knowledge is necessary for all Men, and for want of exercising our selves therein, the greatest part of them remain all their Lives subject to many Vices. But it is chiefly necessary for young Persons, because they are in an Age wherein their Passions begin to spring; in which Time it is very important to observe them and stop them, for Two Reasons.

1. Because they are more easie to be cur'd in their beginning, and stifled in their birth, than corrected when they are become stronger.

2. Because following that most judici­ous Remark of St. Ambrose. Tunc maxi­mè insidiatur adversarius, quando videt in nobis passi­ones aliquas generari, tunc fomites mo­vet, laqueos parat. Ambr. lib. 1. Off. c. 4. The Devil tempts Men most violently at that time, when when he sees some Passion arising in their Soul; for it is then, says this Great Man, that he excites most of all the Causes, and lays Ambushes to engage them more therein.

For this Reason, dear Theotime, I exhort you to Exercise your self in this Know­ledge of your self, as in a thing which is infinitely necessary; or to say better, it is not I who recommend this Means, it is the Holy Ghost himself who gives it in that excellent Instruction in the 37th Chapter of Ecclesiasticus, by the Mouth of the Wise­man;Fili, in vita tua tenta ani­mam tuam, & si fuerit ne­quam, non des ei potestatem. Eccl. 37. Son, examine your Soul all your Life­time; and if you find her inclining to Evil, give her not liberty: He gives the Reason in another place;Anima ne­quam disper­det eum, qui illam habet. Eccl. 6. Because a Soul which hath a propension to Wickedness, will destroy him who possesseth her. And in the 18th Chapter he gives us to understand what it is Not to give liberty to our Soul, viz. Not to follow her Motions and deprav'd Incli­nations, but carefully to repress them.Post concu­piscentias tu­as non eas, & à voluntate tua avertere. Si praebes ani­mae tuae con­cupisccentias ejus, faciet te in gaudium inimicis tuis. Eccl. 18. Run not, says he, after your Concupiscence, and divert your self from your Affection; this is to be understood when it is evil. If you give to your Soul all she desires, she will make you yield unto your Enemies, who will rejoyce at your Destruction.

So that according to the Judgment of the Wise-man, we must know in our Youth the Inclinations of our Soul, that we may repress them when they are wicked. It is the first Knowledge we must learn, and to which we must in good time apply our Studies, that we may practise it all our Life. It is the Science of Sciences, with­out which all other are of no Advantage: [Page 141]For what doth it profit us to know all things, and to be ignorant of our selves?A te tua con­sideratio in­choet, ne fru­stra extenda­ris in alia, te neglecto. Quid tibi prodest si universum mundum lu­creris, te u­num perdens? Eetsi sapiens sis, deest tibi ad sa pientiam, si tibi non fue­ris; Quan­tum vero ut quidem sense­rim ego, to­tum noveris, licet omnia mysteria no­veris, lata terrae, alta coeli, profun­da maris, si te nesciens, eris similis aedificanti sine fundamento, rui­nam, non structuram faciens. S. Bern. l. 2. de Consideratione, c. 3. Begin your Study with the Knowledge of your self, saith S. Bernard. It is in vain to extend your Knowledge to things which belong not to you, neglecting your self. What doth it ad­vantage if you gain the whole World, and lose your own Soul? Whatsoever Wisdom you pos­sess, if it be not so for your felf, the greatest part of Knowledge is wanting. Altho' you should know all the highest Mysteries of Faith, and all the Secrets included in Nature, if you know not your self, you are like to him who builds without a Foundation, preparing a Ru­ine rather than an Edifice. And it befalls them who neglect this Knowledge of themselves, as it did that Philosopher, who being attentive to the Consideration of the Stars, fell into a deep Ditch, for want of looking to himself, and made himself the Object of Laughter to his Spe­ctators.

Be careful then, dear Theotime, to Ex­ercise your self in the Knowledge of your self, and in moderating your Affections: Learn in time to understand that you must not follow all the Motions and Inclinations of your Soul, but that there are many which you must resist with all your Power by the Grace of God. To attain to this Knowledge and Moderation, you must perform Three Things.

1.Practice. Accustom your self to make Reflecti­on upon your self, to take notice of your In­clinations, and the Vices to which you are subject; you will daily see some Passion or Vice, which bears dominion more than others, either Pride, Choler, Love of Plea­sures, or the like. You will discover o­thers which spring up from time to time, and which will encrease, unless you care­fully repress them. Sometimes it will be an Unaptness to learn, and Disobedience; Sometimes Cursing and Swearing; at o­ther Times Discord and Revenge, and so of others. When you shall thus discover them, permit them not to grow up:

Principiis obsta, serò medicina paratur,
Cum mala per longas invaluere moras.
The Motions unto Ill at first withstand,
The Cure's too late, when Vice has got Command.

Endeavour quickly to apply the Remedies; in the Third and Fourth Part you will find them against every one of these Vices.

2. Being that we discover not clearly enough our Constitution in the Knowledge we have by our selves, in our Youth, seek to be Admonish'd of your wicked and dan­gerous Inclinations, by those who know you, and particularly by your Ghostly Father; give credit easily to what he shall tell you, and labor to correct your self.

3. Above all, be diligent in demanding of God frequently the Grace to know your self, and to reform the Evil which is in you. O God, Deus meus il­lumina tene­bras meas. Psal. 17. illuminate the darkness of my Soul, that I may know all that is in me displeasing to thy Divine Majesty, and that I may amend it by thy Grace. Offer frequently unto him that excellent Prayer of St. Augustin, O God, Noverim me, noverim te. Noveris te ut Deum timeas, noveris ipsum ut aeque ipsum diligas. S. Ber. 37. in Cant. let me know my self, and know thee. These, Theotime, are the two Knowledges chiefly necessary, that of your self, and that of God. The First produces Humility and Amendment, which is the beginning of Vertue. The Second produces Charity and the Love of God, which is the top and height of Per­fection.

Of the Reading of Pious Books.

THE wise Man will seek the Wisdom of the Ancients, Fourteenth Means, Read­ing good Books. Sapientiam omnium anti­quorum ex­quiret sapiens & in prophe­tis vacabit. Eccl. 39. and will apply himself to the reading of the Prophets, that is, of holy things. It is another Means which the Wiseman assigns you, very necessary, and extreme useful to acquire and conserve Vertue.

We become not Learned but by the Study of Science; and we become not vertuous, but by our Application to Ver­tue. We have shewn above, that Instru­ction is necessary to learn Vertue; Now [Page 144]we cannot receive Instructions by Docu­ments of Masters only, but also by Read­ing of Books. We are not always near our Pastors and Directors, to learn from them the Way of Vertue. Their Instru­ctions, their Admonitions, their Exhorta­tions, their Counsels, continue but for a time in our Memories; we easily lose them, if they be not maintain'd and renew'd by the Reading of Books, and Meditation up­on holy Things.

For this reason the Wiseman in Eccle­siasticus Chap. 6. after he had said, that to acquire Wisdom, we must hearken to the Documents of the Wise, adds this o­ther Means as necessary, viz. Et si dilexe­ris audire sa­piens eris, co­gitatum habe in praeceptis Domini, & in mandatis illi­us assiduus esto. Eccl. 6. That we must Study and Meditate upon the Law of God. Cast your thoughts, says he, upon the Precepts of God, and meditate carefully upon his Commandments.

Charity, Theotime, is a Fire which must necessarily be sustain'd by good Thoughts and pious Affections: If this Nourishment be taken away from her, she becomes weak, and at length entirely extinguished; if that fail not, she is enflam'd, and daily encrea­ses. Now the Sources of these Thoughts and Affections is the reading of pious Books, which serves as an Instrument of Divine Grace to inspire us with them.

It was by this that God wrought that admirable Conversion of S. Augustin, Example. which was begun by the reading of a Book call'd Hortensius, Treating of Wisdom, as he himself recounts in the Third Book of his [Page 145]Confessions, Chap. 4. it was advanc'd by the Relation of the Conversion of two Courtiers, who had been Converted by the reading of the Life of S. Antony, and in fine was perfected by the reading of the New Testament, which a Voice from Heaven commanded him to read, saying, Tolle, lege; Take and read.

It was by this that he wrought that wonderful Change of S. Serapion, whom the reading of the Gospel mov'd so strong­ly, that he left all his Goods, and having given them to the Poor, even to his wear­ing Cloaths, he went thro' the Streets with with a New Testament under his Arm, saying, Ille me spoliavit; This is that which hath stripped me. O the great force of pi­ous Reading! How is it possible that so holy a Means, and so powerful for the Conversion of Souls, should be so much neglected as it is?

But it is not sufficient to read,A fruitful way of Reading. we must read profitably: For this effect have a care to observe in your Reading these fol­lowing Conditions.

1. Read not for Curiosity, and only to content your Mind, but out of a desire to learn to live well; and to make your Read­ing more profitable, remember to begin it ordinarily with a small elevation of your Mind to God,Revela ocu­los meos, & considerabo mirabilia tua. Da mihi intellectum & scrutabor legem tuam, & custodiam illam in toto corde meo. Psal. 118. by which you shall beg of him the Grace to learn something for your Instruction.

2.Oras? Loque­ris ad spon­sum: legis? Ille tibi loqui­tur. S. Jer. ad Eusto. Read with much Respect, consider­ing that it is God who speaks to you in your Book.Christum alloquimur cum oramus; illum audimus cum divina legimus oracula. S. Amb. lib. 1. Offic. cap. 20. Sit tibi vel oratio assidua vel lectio. Nunc cum Deo loquere, nunc Deus tecum. S. Cypr. Epist. ad Donat. It is a Consideration of the holy Fathers, who say, when we Pray, we Speak to God; and when we Read, he Talks to us.

3. Read not many Books, but only two or three well chosen, which may be pro­per to stir you up to Vertue, and which may afford you the Means: As Augustin's Confessions, the Imitation of Christ, the In­troduction to a Devout Life, the Guide to Sinners Compos'd by Granado, or some o­ther, acording to the Advice of your Con­fessor.

4.Fortuita & varia lectio & quasi casu reperta non aedificat, sed reddit animam instabilem, & leviter admissa levius recedit à memoria. S. Bern. de vita solitaria ad Fra. de mont. Dei. Read in Order, that is, beginning at the beginning, and continuing until the end, otherwise the Reading will be but lit­tle profitable to you.

5. Read but little at a time, and that slowly and attentively; make reflection upon the things you read, endeavour to draw some good Resolution from thence, and beg of God the Grace to put it in exe­cution.

6. Read often, that is, either every Day, or sometimes in the Week, chiefly upon Sundays and Feasts.

7. Content not your self for having read a Book once over, but peruse it often. If you read it not for Curiosity, but to learn Vertue, you will find that the second Read­ing will be more profitable than the first; you will comprehend more easily your Book, you will retain it better, and put it in practice with more advantage.

An Advertisement concerning bad Books.

WHEN I exhort you to read good Books, I advertise you at the same time to fly absolutely wicked ones, which we may call the Plague of Minds, next to which there is nothing more per­nicious to young Persons.

It is one of the most effectual Means the Devil hath invented to corrupt Minds, and which almost always succeeds. He hath rais'd up an infinite number of all sorts, in all Languages, in all Times, and still devises new ones. The greatest part are disguis'd with the appearance of Learning or Eloquence, or of some ingeni­ous Invention; and are by so much more dangerous, as under these Vizors they conceal a mortal Poison, which is deeply imbib'd in the Soul. Young Persons read them with Pleasure and earnestness, and easily remember them: Discourses pass, but Books still remain in their Hands; [Page 148]they have time to meditate on them, and softly digest the Venom they inspire.

The Effects are always pernicious and mortal; for some produce in the Mind Error, and Darkness; others pervert the Judgment, corrupt good Inclinations, ma­king one judge that good which is wicked, and account that wicked which is good. Others teach Vice, excite Passions, inflame Concupiscence, enkindle dishonest Love in the Hearts of the most chaste; and there is none which leaves not behind it much cause to be sorry for reading it.

These Books are pernicious to all Men, but they are most of all hurtful to young Persons, being they are more apt to receive the ill Impressions they make in the Mind; and they ought to avoid them as the Pro­ductions of the Devil, and as a detestable Poison which Hell vomits upon Earth to infect, and destroy Souls.

1. These are all Heretical Books, which teach Errors in Faith, and which combat the Truths receiv'd by the Church.

2. All wicked Books, which convert Religion and pious Things into Derision; which blame the Ceremonies, and receiv'd Customs thereof; which scoff at Persons Confecrated to God, as Priests and Religi­ous. Those which abuse the Sacred Scri­pture by wicked and profane Applicati­ons.

3. Lascivious and immodest Books, which wage open War against Chastity.

4. Books which treat of Love, altho' [Page 149]they be not uncivil in Words; Such are most of the Latin and French Poets, and the greatest part of Romances. These Books are more dangerous than those of the Third sort, because those openly teach Wickedness, and easily breed an aversion of themselves, in Souls which have yet the Fear of God; but these not seeming to be publickly naught, attract the Mind by their fair Discourses, and by the sweet­ness of the Things they treat of, by which delighting the Senses, they inflame the Heart with impure Love.

Fly all these Books, Theotime, Practice. as Inven­tions which the Devil hath found out to destroy you. You can scarce ever read them without a mortal Sin; for you ei­ther entertain evil Thoughts, or expose your self to the evident danger of enter­taining them. If you have any of these Books, keep them not, absolutely part with them, notwithstanding any Resolu­tion you have made not to read them: Cu­riosity will tempt you and overcome you at the end; it is a Serpent which when you think the least on it, will give you a mor­tal Wound.

Say not that these Books are well Com­pos'd, that the Discourse is Eloquent, that you learn there to Speak well, and many excellent Things: For I shall answer you with S. Augustin, that all this is but a false Pretext;Non omni­no per hanc turpitudinem verba illa commodius discuntur, sed per haec verba turpitudo ista confidentius perpetratur. S. Aug. lib. 2. Confes. cap. 16. and that by these wicked Books we learn not to Speak well, but only to become bad, and commit Vice with less restraint. I [Page 150]tell you, you may draw Eloquence from other Places than from those corrupted Fountains; and that that Eloquence or Sci­ence is misfortunate, which cannot be ac­quir'd, but by the loss of ones Soul and eternal Happiness.

Of Pious Conversation.

THERE is yet a most important Means to acquire Vertue, viz. to Converse with vertuous Persons. Nothing hath so great power over the Mind as Ex­ample, whether good or bad. Man is na­turally inclin'd to Imitation, and to act that which he sees others do. Now if Example hath such an influence over the Mind, it is principally in Conversation, where it hath so much more force, by how much it is entertain'd nearer, and more frequently. And if it have so much power over Men, it hath a wonderful influence upon young People, as we see by Experi­ence.

For this reason one of the most impor­tant Advices which can be given to those who aspire to Vertue, and particularly to young Persons, is that of pious Conversa­tion.

It is there, Theotime, where Vertue is instill'd into the Mind with Pleasure. The Example of others makes secret, but [Page 151]strong Impressions, which frame the Soul to Piety, without perceiving it. A Man insensibly embraces their Judgments and Maxims, learns to speak and act like them, and believes it his Duty to do what he sees others perform. A noble Spirit blushes to see it self overcome by its Companions: And it is a sign of a wicked Disposition, and of a Mind totally abandon'd by God, when the Example of others doth not move it, and that it persists in Vice a­mongst the Examples of Vertue.

This most powerful Means is also taught by the Wiseman in Ecclesiasticus, Chap. 9. Treat, says he, with the Wise and Prudent; let the just and vertuous Persons be your familiar Companions. The reason of this Counsel is given in the Proverbs; becauseQui cum sa­pientibus gra­ditur sapiens erit. Prov. 13. He who converseth with the wise, will becom wise.

Now there are two sorts of vertuous Persons with whom you ought to con­verse.

1. Endeavour to Associate your Self with discreet Persons, who surpass you in Age as well as in Wisdom and Vertue. It is the Advice of the Wiseman in the words I cited now, and also in Chap. 6. where he says,In multitu­dine presbyte­rorum pru­dentium sta, & sapientiae illorum ex corde conjun­gere. Eccl. 6. Frequent the Company of ancient wise Persons, and seriously follow their wis­dom; That is, take pleasure in their Society, and advantage your self with their wise Discourses, and good Exam­ples. St. Ambrose gives the same Advice to young People in his Offices, where he [Page 152]says,Plurimum itaque pro­dest unicuique bonis conjun­gi. Adolescen­tibus quoque utile ut claros & sapientes viros sequan­tur, quoniam qui congredi­tur sapientibus sapiens erit, &c. Et ad instructionem bonis jungi, plurimum proficit, & ad probitatis testimonium, ostendunt enim adolescentes eorum se imitatores esse quibus adhaeserint, & ea con­valescit opinio quod ab his vivendi acceperint similitudinem cum quibus conversandi hauserint cupiditatem. S. Ambr. Lib. 2. Offic. cap. 20. That it is very profitable for young Persons to follow wise Men, because it assists them much to learn Vertue, and give some Proof of their integrity. And that young Per­sons conversing with wise Men, shew that they imitate those with whom they associate; and it is judg'd that they form their Lives accord­ing to theirs with whom they keep Company.

2. Converse with those of your Age and Profession, whom you know to be ad­dicted to Vertue: Their Example will make a great Impression upon your Mind, and will delightfully draw you to their Imitation: Have a care then to make a good Choice, practising exactly that ex­cellent Advice of St. Jerom to Nepotian; Associate, Tales habeto socios quorum contubernio non infame­ris. Non or­nentur veste sed moribus, nec alamistro crispent co­mas, sed mori­bus pudiciti­am pollicean­t [...]r. S. Hier. Epist. ad Ne­po [...]an. says he, your self with those, whose Conversation may give no blemish to your Re­putation, and who shall be better adorn'd with Vertue than with Garments, and who delight not in Curling their Hair, but who shall pro­mise Modesty and Integrity. Keep Com­pany with such, love their Conversation, take notice frequently of their Modesty, of their Piety, of their vertuous Actions, and endeavour to imitate them by a holy and blessed Emulation, which will not per­mit you to be last in the Service of your Creator.

Of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin and S. Joseph.

THIS, Theotime, Sixteenth Means. is one of the last Means which I assign you; but it is also one of the most effectual and delight­ful, to make you live and encrease in Ver­tue, viz. The Devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Next to God, and the most adorable Humanity of his Son Jesus Christ, it is she whom we must chiefly Honor and Love, by reason of that most sublime and excel­lent Dignity of the Mother of God, which raiseth her above all Creatures God hath ever created.

By her we may receive all the Assistance which is necessary for us. She is most Powerful in respect of God, to obtain from him all that she shall demand of him. She is all Goodness in regard of us, to apply her self to God for us. Being Mo­ther of God, he cannot refuse her Request; being our Mother, she cannot deny us her Intercession, when we have recourse to her. Our Miseries move her Heart, our Necessities urge ger, the Prayers we offer her for our Salvation, bring to us all that we demand: And St. Bernard hath the boldness to say,Sileat mise­ricordiam tu­am, Virgo be­ata, si quis est qui invocatam te in necessi­tatibus suis si­bi meminer it defuisse. S. Ber. Serm. 4. de Assumpt. That never any Person invoked that Mother of Mercy in his Neces­sities, who hath not been sensible of the Effects of her Assistance.

Since the Blessed Virgin hath so much Goodness and Mercy for all Men, we may say she hath a very particular one for young People, whose Frailty she knows to be the greatest, and Necessities most urgent, chiefly for the preservation of Chastity, which is most of all assaulted in that Age, and of which she is a singular Protectress. Histories are full of Exam­ples of Saints, who have conserv'd this great Vertue in their Youth, by the Assi­stance of this Queen of Virgins; And the Experience thereof doth daily discover many who have gain'd great Victories, by the recourse they have had to her Inter­cession, and who have happily advanc'd themselves in Vertue under her Protection and Conduct.

Be therefore Devout to the Blessed Vir­gin, dear Theotime; but in the Name of God let it not be the Devotion of many, who think themselves to be Devout to the Blessed Virgin, in offering ordinarily some Prayer to her, more by Custom than Ver­tue; and on the otherside do not care hor­ribly to displease her by a Life replenish'd with mortal Sins, which they commit without any scruple. O God! what Devotion is this to desire to please the Mother, and daily crucifie the Son, tram­ple his Blood under their Feet, and con­temn his Grace and Friendship? Is not this to be an Enemy both to Son and Mother?

O dear, Theotime, your Devotion to the [Page 155]Blessed Virgin must not be like that,True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. it must be more generous and more holy; and to speak plainly, if you will be a true Child, and a sincere Servant of the Blessed Virgin, you must have a care to perform Four things.

1. Have a great apprehension of dis­pleasing her by mortal Sin, and of afflict­ing her Motherly Heart, by Dishonoring her Son, and destroying your Soul; and if you chance to fall into that Misfortune, have recourse readily to her,Non asper­natur affe­ctum praedul­cem ingens desiderium in­undationem lacrymarum, assiduitatem precum quo­rumlibet etiam peccatorum, Si tamen laverint à malitia cor. S. Ber. Serm. 1. Super Salve Regina. that she may be your Mediatrix to reconcile you to her Son, extremely provoked by you. She is the refuge of Sinners as well as of the Just, on Condition they have recourse to her with a true desire of converting themselves, as S. Bernard says.

2. Love and imitate her Vertues, and principally her Humility and Chastity. These two Vertues amongst others, have render'd her entirely pleasing to God:Agnoscit cer­te, & diligit diligentes se, & prope est in veritate invo­cantibus se, praesertim his quos videt sibi conformes factos in castitate & humilitate. Ibid. She loves them singularly in her Chil­dren, and is delighted to assist with her Favors those whom she finds to be parti­cularly inclin'd to those Vertues, accord­ing to the same Saint.

3. Have recourse to her for things needful for your Salvation; and for that [Page 156]end offer to her daily some particular Prayers, say your Beads or the little Of­fice sometimes in the Week, perform some­thing in her Honor on every Saturday, whether Prayer, Abstinence, or Alms; Honor particularly her Feasts with Con­fession and Communion.

4. Be mindful to Invoke her in Tem­ptations, and in the Dangers you find your self in of offending God. You cannot shew your respect for her better, than by applying your self to her in these urgent Necessities, and you can find no Succor more prompt and favorable than hers. It is the Counsel of St. Bernard; Si insurgant venti tentati­onum, si in­curras scopu­los tribulatio­num, respice stellam, voca Mariam: In periculis, in angustiis, in rebus dubiis, Mariam cogi­ta, Mariam invoca. Non recedat ab ore, non recedat à corde. Et ut imperves orationis ejus suffragium non deseras conversation is exemplum. S. Bern. Eom. 2. Super missus est. If the Winds of Temptations be rais'd against you, if you run upon the Rocks of Adversity, lift up your Eyes towards that Star, Invoke the Blessed Virgin. In Dangers, in Extremities, in doubtful Affairs, think upon the Blessed Vir­gin, call upon the Blessed Virgin, let her not depart from your Mouth, nor from your Heart: And that you may obtain the assistance of her Intercession, be sure to follow the Ex­ample of her Conversation.

If you perform this, you will have a true Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, you will be of the number of her real Children, and she will be your Mother, under whose Protection you shall never perish. Keep well in memory that excellent Sentence of [Page 157]S. Anselm, who presum'd to say, That as it is necessary he must needs perish, who hath no Affection to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and who forsakes her; So it is impossible he should perish, who hath re­course to her, and whom she regards with the Eyes of Mercy.

I shall make an end with an excellent Example which I shall produce for a Proof of this Verity.A Remarkable Example. Re­velation, c. 13. S. Brigit had a Son who follow'd the Profession of a Souldier, and was bred up in the Wars, and dy'd there­in, she having heard the News of his Death, was much concern'd for the Salvation of her Son, dead in so dangerous a Condition; and as she was often savour'd by God with Revelations, of which alone she hath Com­pos'd a Book, she was assur'd of the Salva­tion of her Son by ensuing Revelations. In the first the Blessed Virgin reveal'd to her, that she had assisted her Son with a particular Protection at the Hour of his Death, having strengthned him against Temptations, and obtain'd all necessary Favors for him to make a holy and happy End. In the following she declar'd the Cause of that singular Assistance she gave her Son, and said it was in Recompence of his great and sincere Devotion he had testifi'd to her, during his Life, wherein he had lov'd her with a very ardent Affe­ction, and had endeavour'd to please her in all things.

This is, Theotime, what a real Devotion to the Blessed Virgin did merit for this [Page 158]young Man, and for many others: She will be as prevalent for you, if you have a Devotion for her; if you love and ho­nor the Blessed Virgin as she ought to be lov'd and honor'd, in the manner we have spoken of.

But in speaking of the Devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Devotion to S. Joseph very profitable to young Per­sons. I cannot pass by that of her dear Spouse, the glorious S. Joseph. This great Saint having had the singular Happiness to be chosen to have the Care and Guardianship of the Son of God in his Infancy and Youth, it must needs follow that he will be favorable to young Persons, and cherish them tenderly in that Age, which he saw sanctifi'd by the Son of God. He hath Serv'd him in all the Necessities of his Life, to which he was pleas'd to submit himself for our Love: He freed him from the Persecutions of his Enemies, he bred him up in his Infancy, govern'd him in his Youth; He saw him submit himself to his Commands; He was a do­mestick Witness and Admirer of the Gra­ces and Vertues he made appear from Day to Day in his tender Years; as the Sun discovers his Light according to the pro­portion he rises higher.

Ought we not to believe that this Saint, who hath had so much Familiarity with Jesus Christ when a little Child, affects with a singular tenderness the Children of Jesus Christ, and particularly those who endeavor to conform themselves to that Divine Youth, by the imitation of his [Page 159]Vertues, and that he should be their Pro­tector and Intercessor to him.

Fix your Affection, Theotime, upon this good Saint, and honor him with a parti­cular Respect: Take him for your Pa­tron, and for the Protector of your Purity. Pray to him daily with much confidence, and above all in your Necessities, and you will receive wonderful Succors. Demand of him by the Care he had of the Divine Infancy of Jesus Christ, that he would pre­serve your Youth in the Dangers of your Salvation; and that he would aid you to conserve in your Soul that Divine Saviour, as he was employ'd once to guard him when he was in the World.

Of Devotion to the Angel-Guardian, and to the Saint of ones Name.

GOD affects us so tenderly,Seventeenth Means, Devo­tion to the Angel-Guar­dian. that he gives to every one of us an Angel for our Guardian, employing by an incompa­rable Goodness his most perfect Creatures in our Service, and those celestial Spirits which are created incessantly to Contem­plate him, and continually to Serve him in Heaven, to attend also upon us. O Theo­time, how great is the Bounty of God, to depute no less than a Prince of his Court to the Conduct of a poor Servant: And, as S. Bernard says excellently well, not to [Page 160]be content to send his SonMittis ei u­nigenitum tu­um, immittis Spiritum tu­um, promittis etiam vultum tuum, & ne quid in coele­stibus vacet ab opere sollici­tudinis no­strae, beatos illos spritus propter nos mittis, in ministerium custodiae nostrae de­putas, jubes nostros fieri paedagogos. S. Bern. Serm. 12. in Psal. Qui habitat. to us, to give us his Holy Spirit, to promise the enjoy­ment of him himself in Heaven, so that there should be nothing in Heaven which should not be employ'd for our Salvation, he sends his Angels to contribute thereto their Service; he appoints them for our Guardians, he commands them to be our Masters and Conductors.

Bear a particular Honor and Love to him whom God hath given you. He is always near to conduct and guard you, he inspires you with good thoughts, he as­sists you in important Affairs, he fortifies you in Temptations, he diverts many Mis­fortunes from you which otherwise would befall you, whether temporally or spiri­tually; and he continues these good Offi­ces by how much more you have recourse to him. What is it that you owe not to such a Conductor, to such a Defen­der?

Angelis suis mandavit de te. Quantum debet hoc ver­bum inferre reverentiam, afferre devo­tionem, con­ferre fiduci­am? Reverentiam pro presentia, devotionem pro benevolentia, fiduciam pro custodia. Ibid.S. Bernard says, that the guarding of our good Angel ought to inspire us with Three things, Respect, Love, and Confi­dence. Respect for his Presence, Love or Devotion for the Good-will he hath for us, and Confidence for the care he hath of our Protection and Preservation.

1.In quovis diversorio in quovis angu­lo, Angelo tuo reveren­tiam habe. Tu ne aude, illo praesente, quod vidente me non aude­res. Ibid. Shew then, Theotime, a great Re­spect to your Angel; and when you shall be tempted to any wicked Action, call to mind his Prefence, and be asham'd to do that before him, which you would not dare to commit before a vertuous Per­son.

2. Love him tenderly, and recommend your self to him daily. Beseech him that he would direct your Actions, and protect you from the Misfortunes of this Life, and above all from Sin, which is the greatest Misery.

3. Remember to have recourse to him in all your Necessities, and principally in two Occasions amongst others.

The first is, when you deliberate, or un­dertake any important Affair, wherein you have need of Counsel and Assistance. Demand of your good Angel to conduct you in that Affair, so that you undertake it not, except it be according to the Will of God, for his Service and your Salvation, and that he will assist you happily to finish it.Quid sub tantis custodi­bus timea­mus? nec su­perari nec se­duci, minus autem sedu­cere possunt, qui custodiunt nos in omnibus viis nostris. Fideles sunt, prudentes sunt, potentes sunt, quid trepidamus? tantum sequamur eos, adhaereamus eis. Ibid. This Means is very efficacious to make your Businesses to succeed well; it is impossible they should not prosper un­der so good a Guide, who is most faithful, wise, and powerful.

The Second is, when you are assaulted with any Temptation, and are in danger [Page 162]of offending God.Quoties gravissima cernitur ur­gere tentatio, & tribulatio vehemens im­minere, invo­ca custodem tuum, docto­rem tuum, ad­jutorem tuum in opportuni­tatibus, in tri­bulatione. Ibid. When you see, says S. Bernard, a great Temptation which urges you, or a violent Tribulation which approaches you, Invoke your Guardian, your Teacher, to wit, him who assists you eflectually in your Necessities. This Remedy, Theotime, is very powerful in all Temptations, and especially in those which combat Chastity, of which the Angels are Lovers, and par­ticular Protectors, as being a Vertue which render Men like unto them, and which makes them imitate upon Earth their most pure and celestial Life. From whence it happens,S. Amb Hom. 3. de Virginitate. says St. Ambrose, that it is no wonder if Angels defend chast Souls, who lead upon Earth a Life of Angels.

Next to your good Angel,Devotion to our Patron. Honor par­ticularly your Patron. The Names of Saints are given us at Baptism, that they may be our Protectors and Intercessors to God,Debent enim aliquid in no­bis de suis re­cognoscere virtutibus, ut pro nobis dig­nentur Domi­no supplicare. S. Aug. Ser. 39. de Sanct. and that by their Prayers, and the Example of their Vertues, we may acquit our selves worthily of the Obligations of a Christian Life, whereof we make Profes­sion in Baptism. Honor and love him whose Name you bear, recommend your self daily to him, and that you may cer­tainly obtain his Assistance, remember to imitate his Vertues.

Of keeping of Feasts, and particularly of Sundays.

THE Celebration of Feasts is also a Means which marvellously avails to­wards the gaining of Vertue, when it is well observ'd according to the Intention of God and the Church.The prime In­stitution of Feasts. These are the Days which are given to Men to attend to the Service of God, and the sanctification of their Souls, which being well employ'd, cause them to make a great progress in the way of Salvation.

Their Institution is as ancient as the World, at the beginning whereof the Scri­pture says, that God having created all things in Six Days, gave his Blessing to theEt benedi­xit diei septi­mo, & sancti­ficavit illum, quia in ipso cessaverat ab omni opere suo. Gen. 2. Memento ut Diem Sabbati sanctifices. Levit. 23. Seventh, and sanctifi'd it in memory of the accomplishment of his works. He af­terwards gave a new Commandment there­of, when he gave the Law to the People of Israel, to whom he prescrib'd the man­ner how he would be Honor'd by them on that Day. He adds also other Days there, which he would have employ'd in acknow­ledgment of his most signal Benefits, and for the sanctification of his People.

This Institution hath been continu'd, augmented, and perfected in the new Law, continu'd by the sanctification of the Seventh Day, except only that it was transferr'd to the Day next after the Sab­bath [Page 164]of the Jews, Dies Resur­rectionis do­minicae tantis divinarum dispositionum miraculis est consecrata, ut quicquid est à Domino in­signius consti­tutum in hu­jus diei digni­tatem sit ge­stum. S. Leo Epist. 81. the Day of the Resur­rection of our Lord, of the Coming of the Holy Ghost, and of many other Myste­ries. Encreas'd by many Feasts to Honor the Mysteries of our Redemption, and the Favors God hath bestow'd upon the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. Perfected as to the manner of Celebrating them, which is far more elevated, more spiri­tual, and more perfect than in the old Law, which, as the Apostle says,Nihil ad perfectum adduxit lex. Heb. 7. brought nothing to perfection.

This Perfection doth not consist in the material Sacrifices,In what the san­ctification of Feasts consists. as in that Law, nor in a sole abstaining from Corporal and Ser­vile Works, as the generality of Christi­ans esteem it;Offerre spiri­tuales hostias acceptabiles Deo per Je­sum Christum. 1 Pet. 2. but it requires an Interior and Spiritual Worship, which is perform'd by Praising God, Thanksgivings, Prayers, Contrition, reading pious Books, and other like good Actions, which are the Sacrifices God expects from us now.

And, as Learned Origen says very well,Si desinas ab omnibus se­cularibus ope­ribus, & nihil mundanum geris, sed spi­ritualibus o­peribus vaces, ad Ecclesiam convenias, lectionibus divinis, & tractatibus aurem praebeas, & de coelesti­bus cogites, de futura spe sollicitudinem geras, venturum judicium prae oculis habeas, non respicias ad praesentia & visibilia, sed ad in­visibilia & futura; haec est observatio Sabbati Christiani. Origenes Hom. 23. in Numeros. The Observance of the Christian Sabbath consists in leaving all Corporal Affairs, to apply our selves to those of our Salvation; to go to Church, to hear the Divine Word, to think upon Heaven, to aspire to Glory, to call to mind the last Judgment, forgetting things present, to employ our thoughts upon eternal.

An Observance which not only Cele­brates a Feast upon Earth, but in Heaven to the Angels, who rejoyce; and to God himself, to whom, as the same Author says,Est magna Festivitas hu­mana salus. Ibid. the Salvation of Men is a great Feast.

Such a Celebration of Feasts as this, is a great Means to acquire Vertue, and make it visibly encrease; and it is particularly for this end that it is commanded. For this reason I admonish you here, Theotime, to acquit your self worthily thereof; and not permit your self to be carry'd away by the Example of many, who profane Holy Days, which some spend in temporal Employments and Affairs, without respect or distinction as the most profane. Others pass them in Idleness, and vain Recreations, as if Feasts were Instituted for nothing else but Divertisements, not considering that if it be commanded to rest from corporal Works these Days, it is to apply the Mind to pious Things; and that to per­form it so, is to observe the Feast carnally,Observa di­em Sabbati, non carnali­ter, non Ju­daicis deliciis, qui otio abu­tuntur ad ne­quitiam, me­lius utique to­ta die sode­rent quam to­ta die salta­rent. Aug. in Psal. 32. as S. Augustin says, and after the man­ner of the Jews, who abuse the repose of the Holy Days by committing Evil, and who would be less culpable, in Tilling the Earth all day, than in spending it in Jol­lities. Others busie themselves on Sun­days in bad Actions, as in Debauchery, in Drunkenness, in immodest Words, in Quarrels, in Sights, in Plays of Hazard, and other like Disorders, which change the Feasts of God into the Solemnities of the Devil, and which afford a Subject of [Page 166]JoyViderunt eam hostes & deriserunt Sabbata ejus. 1 Thren. 1. to those wicked Spirits, as they are the ObjectSolemnitates vestras odit anima mea. Isa. of abomination to God, ac­cording to the Testimony of the Sacred Scripture.

Be not therefore of the number of all those,The first thing that ought to be done on Sun­days. who abuse so holy and necessary an Institution; spend your Time religiously upon Holy Days in the Service of God, and sanctification of your Soul, according to the Intention of God and his Church.

1. Being that the greatest Hindrance of the Sanctification of Feasts is Sin,Not to offend God. have have a care not to offend God on those Days; for altho' Sin ought at all times to cause a horror, yet it is more criminal on that.Certum est, quia qui pec­cat, & agit diem peccati, non potest a­gere diem fe­stum. Ibid. O­rig. num. 15. He who sins (says Origen) Cele­brates a Feast of Sin, and not a holy Day of God. If the Fault of him who gather'd a few Sticks upon the Sabbath was judg'd so great, that he deserv'd to be ston'd to death by the Commandment of God him­self; what Crime will it be to violate the Sanctity of a Sunday with a mortal Sin? If a servil Work, which is not bad of it self, is esteem'd contrary to the Holiness of a Sabbath, how much more a Sin, which infinitely dishonors God which profanes the Sanctity of his living Temple, and which is the most servil of all Actions? because by servil Works we Serve but Men, and by Sin we render our selves the Servants of Sin, and Slaves of the Devil, according to that Sentence of the Son of [Page 167]God,Joh. 8.34. Servi estis ejus cui obeditis, sive peccati ad mortem, sive obedientiae ad justitiam. Rom. 6. A quo quis superatus est, hujus es servus. 2 Pet. 2. Qui facit peccatum servus est peccati; and after him of his Apostle.

2. Examine carefully your Conscience upon Sundays, and purge the Sins of the past Week by Contrition, and good Works, and frequently by receiving the Sacraments.

Approach to them as often as you can upon these Days, but particularly when you have the least doubt of being in the Grace of God; never fail of that in this Occasion. You would not upon a Feast-day appear before the Eyes of Men with sordid and torn Cloaths; on the con­trary you Dress your self more decent­ly for Respect to the Day; and dare you appear before God on the same Day with a Soul defil'd with Sin? We adorn more richly the Altars and material Tem­ples to Honor God on those Days, and will you permit your Soul, the living Temple of God, to remain in a State which infinitely displeases him, and causes a hor­ror to him?Quid pro­dest honesta­tis formam praeferens cultus exteri­or, si interio­ra hominis a­liquorum sor­deant conta­minatione vi­tiorum. S. Leo. Ser 3. de Qua­drag. To what (saith S. Leo) do all the exterior Ornaments serve, if the inte­rior be full of Corruption, and Sin? Keep well in mind that Sentence of S. Augustin, which says,Qui nec ca­stitatem custo­dit in corpore nec puritatem tenet in men­te, quoties san­ctae Solemni­tates adveniunt, in corpore videtur habere gaudium, in corde non celebrat nisi luctum: quale enim gaudium conscientia illa habere potest, in cujus anima multis vitiis occupata magis Diabolus pro­batur habitare quam Christus? S. Aug, Serm. 255. That he who doth not con­serve Chastity in his Body, and Purity in his Mind, only Celebrates a Feast of Sadness and Mourning upon holy Days. He gives the rea­son of it, because it is impossible he should par­take of real Joy, whose Conscience reproaches [Page 168]him with the thought, that his Soul is inhabited by the Devil, and not by Jesus Christ. Consi­der attentively this Reason.

3. In the Third place, be careful upon Sundays and solemn Feasts, to be present at the Divine Office which is perform'd in the Church. St. Augustin in his Confessi­ons acknowledges the Profit he receiv'd from thence after his Conversion.Cum remi­niscor lacry­marum quas sudi ad cantus Ecclesiae tuae, in primordiis recuperatae fi­dei meae, & mane cum moveor non cantu, sed re­bus quae. can­tantur, mag­nam instituti hujus utilita­tem rursus agnosco. Aug. lib. 10. Con­fes. cap. 33. He saith, That at the beginning he was sensi­bly mov'd with the Singing of the Church, which softning his Heart, drew from him abundance of Tears: And this Profit was also greater and more solid, when he began to be toucht more feelingly by the sublime Sense of the Song, than by the Song it self. This Profit will befall you, if you be present at the Office of the Church, not to Dis­course, to Laugh, to Look upon those who pass, to Salute all the World, to See and to be Seen, as it happens to many by a sad and deplorable Abuse, but with all the Re­spect due to the House and Presence of God, with a great interior Modesty, with a Mind recollected and very attentive to pious Things.

4. Hear sometimes the Word of God in Sermons, Discourses, Exhortations, and Instructions, which are made in the Church upon Sundays and solemn Feasts. In your particular Employments at sometime on [Page 169]those Days apply your self to the Read­ing of some pious Book, profitable for your Salvation. Converse with devout Persons, and seek their Conferences. Let your Recreations be more moderate on those Days, and always accompany'd with a Modesty agreeable to the Sanctity of the Day.

In fine, Employ the Repose of holy Days in thinking upon theRelinquitur Sabbatismus populo Dei, festinemus in­gredi in illam requiem. Heb. 4. Eternal Rest they represent, unto which you must ear­nestly aspire, and in meditating on the great and happyRespice Si­on civitatem solennitatis nostrae. Isa. 33. Solemnity which shall be Celebrated in Heaven, where the Sight of God filling the Blessed with immortal Joy, will keep a Feast which will never have an end, and which will endure for all Eternity. It is principally on these Days, Theotime, that we must say with the Pro­phet,Quam dile­cta taberna­cula tua, Do­mine virtu­tum! concu­piscit & defi­cit anima mea in atrio Domini. Bea­ti qui habi­tant in domo tua Domine; in saecula saeculorum laudabunt te: Beatus vir cujus est auxilium abs te; ascensiones in corde suo dis­posuit, in valle lacrymarum in loco quem posuit. Psal. 83. How amiable are thy celestial Habi­tations, O Lord! my Soul doth sigh after them even unto Death. Happy are those who dwell in thy House, who Sing there eternally thy Praises; and blessed is he, who by the assistance of thy Grace, disposes in his Heart the Means to mount from this Valley of Tears, to that so desirable a Dwelling.

Of being present at Divine Service.

I Add here this Subject, because it helps much for the Celebration of Feasts, whereof I have spoken, and is a power­ful Means to conduct men to a solid Piety; wherefore I have a mind to give you a ne­cessary Instruction, which you may make use of all your Life.

Now to give you an Account of this from the beginning,The first Insti­tution of Pari­shes. you must know, that the Apostles, after the Ascension of the Son of God, having chang'd the Sabbath of the Jews into the First Day of the Week, to be dedicated to the Service of God, and to the sanctification of Souls, establish'd on that Day the Assemblies of the Faithful, where every one should be duly present, to Pray in common, to hear the Divine Word, to assist at the Celebration of the Divine Mysteries, at the Participation of the Sacraments, and at the gathering of Alms, which was there perform'd for the assistance of Christians in necessity.

The Acts of the Apostles give us the Marks of this Institution, and S. Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, Ch. 16. where by the WordsUna autem Sabbati, cum convenisse­mus ad fran­gendum pa­nem. Act. 20, Per unam Sabbati unusquisque apud se seponat recondens quod ei placuerit. 1 Cor. 11. Una Sabbati dominica Dies est. S. Ambr. hic. Ego Joannes fui in Spiritu dominica die. Apoc. 1. Ʋna Sabbati, [Page 171]One of the Sabbaths, is understood the First Day of the Week, which was call'd from thence the Day of our Lord, as S. John calls it in the Apocalyps.

And as to the Assemblies of that Day, the Tenth Canon of the Apostles speaks clearly, ordaining thatOmnes fide­les qui conve­niunt in so­lemnitatibus sacris Scriptu­ras Apostolo­rum & Evan­gelium audi­ant. Qui au­tem non per­severaverit in oratione us­que dum Mis­sa peragitur, nec sanctam Communionem percipiant, velut inquietudinem Ec­clesiae moventes, convenit Communione privari. Can. 10. Apost. all Christians who were gather'd together in the Church on solemn Days, should hear there the Sacred Scriptures, and the Gospel, and be there present at the Prayer, even until the end, and there Commu­nicate. St. Ignatius, Cotemporary with the Apostles, makes mention thereof in his Epistle, and other ancient Authors; but above all, S. Justin Martyr, who liv'd in the Second Age in the Year 150, and Tertullian, who came 30 Years after.

The First, in the Second Apology he made for Christians, describes distinctly all that was perform'd in those Assemblies, which is the same that is now done at the Parish Mass. See what he says of it;Et Solis qui dicitur die omnium qui vel in oppi­dis vel ruri degunt, in eundem lo­cum conven­tus fit, & com­mentarii A­postolorum, aut scripta Prophetarum, quoad tempus fert; leguntur deinde lectore quiescente, Praesidens o­ratione popu­lum instruit, & ad imitatio­nem tam pul­chrarum re­rum exhorta­tur. Postea surgimus si­mul omnes, & preces fundi­mus: & precibus peractis, panis offertur & vinum & aqua, & Praepositus quantum potest, preces & gratiarum actiones fundit, & populus faustè acclamat, Amen. Et distributio & communi­catio fit oblatorum unicuique; absentibus autem per Diaconum mittitur; caeterum qui copiosiores sunt & volunt pro arbitrio suo quod visum est contribuant, & quod ita colligitur apud Praeposi­tum de ponitur, atque ille opitulatur pupillis & viduis & his qui propter morbum aut alium casum egent, quique in vinculis sunt & peregrinis, & ut verbo dicam, indigentium is omnium curator est. S. Justin. Apol. 2. On the Day which is call'd Sunday, there are assembled all those who live in the Town or Country, and there are read the Book of the Apostles, or the Writings of the Prophets, ac­cording as time permits. After the Reading, he who Presides makes a Discourse, by which he Instructs the People, and Exhorts them to Practise those excellent things which were read: Afterwards we all rise, and offer our Prayers to God. These things being finish'd, [Page 172]there is an Oblation made of Bread, Wine and Water, the Celebrant continuing his Prayers and Thanksgiving, the People answering by their Acclamations, Amen. Then is per­form'd the Distribution and Communication of the holy Mysteries to every one present. Lastly, those who are more wealthy, give their Alms, which are gather'd, and sent into the Hands of the Superior, who employs them to the Necessities of the Poor, of whom he is to take a care.

Tertullian in his Apologetick, Chap. 36. says,Coimus in coenam & con­gregationem, ut ad Deum quasi manu­facta precati­onibus ambi­amus orantes; haec vis Deo grata est. Coimus ad literarum di­vinarum commemorationem, si quid praesentium temporum qua­litas aut praemonere cogit, aut recognoscere. Certe fidem san­ctis vocibus poscimus, spem erigimus, fiduciam figimus, Disci­plinam Praeceptorum nihilominus inculcationibus densamus. Ibi­dem etiam exhortationes, castigationes censura divina. Nam & judicatur magno cum pondere, ut apud certos de Dei conspectu, summumque suturi judicii praejudicium est. Si quis ita deliquit ut a congregatione, & conventus, & omnis sancti commercii rele­legetur. Tertul. Apol. cap. 39. That the Christians assembled to­gether in Companies, forming as it were a Body of an Army, wherein by their Prayers they encounter with God, to whom this kind of violence is very pleasing. In [Page 173]these Meetings something of Scripture is read, which serves to nourish Faith, to raise Hope, and strengthen the Courage of the Faithful. There are made neces­sary Exhortations and Admonitions to every one; And also when any one had committed a Fault that deserv'd Chastise­ment, he was punish'd by being excluded from the entrance into these holy Places of Assemblies, which was accounted one of the greatest Punishments. Afterwards he speaks of Alms which are there given for the Relief of the Poor and Afflicted.

Concerning which we must take notice, that during the Three first Ages of the Church, wherein She liv'd amongst Perse­cutions, it frequently happen'd that the Christians had not any appointed Places, at least public, wherein to make their Congregations, but perform'd them in private Houses, or often in secret. But after it pleas'd God to give Peace and Liberty to the Church under Christian Emperors, they began boldly to build Churches, where the Faithful assembled on Sundays and Feasts, under the Conduct of a Pastor, who was given them to have a care of their Souls.

It was then when the use of Parishes and of the Parochial Mass on these holy Days became to appear in its lustre; and since that time it hath always been conserv'd in the Churches, and recommended to the Faithful with much care, as a thing neces­sary for the Service of God, and the Sal­vation [Page 174]of Souls, for the the Instruction of People, and Conduct of Manners; and to conserve the Order and Discipline of the Church, it hath been also commanded as a thing of Obligation.

This appears in the greatest part of Councils, as well General as Particular, which have been held since, and lately in the Council of Trent, which renewing and relying upon the former, in the 22th Ses­sion, Orders Bishops to Moneant e­tiam eundem populum, ut frequentes ad suas parochi­as saltem die­bus dominicis, & majoribus festis acce­dant. Concil. Trid. Sess. 22. Moneat Epi­scopus popu­lum diligenter teneri unumquemque Parochiae suae interesse, ubi commodè id fieri potest. Sess. 24. cap. 4. advertize their People to go frequently to their Parishes, at least upon Sundays and solemn Feasts, and to constrain them thereto by Ecclesiastical Cen­sures. And in the 24th Session it Ordains also, That Bishops carefully admonish their People, that every one is oblig'd to be present at the Parish, to hear there the Word of God, when it can be perform'd without considerable Inconvenience.

This is the Institution of Parishes and Parochial Masses; from whence it is easie to gather Three things, from the ignorance of which doth spring the Contempt which is offer'd to them, viz. their Antiquity, End, and Obligation.

They are as ancient as the Church her self. Their End, to Govern the Christi­an People with Order, and Ease, every one having his proper Pastor to watch over his Salvation, and every Pastor his Church, which is as it were his Flock, [Page 175]where the Sheep are assembled to receive their Spiritual Sustenance, the cure of their Distempers, Instructions and necessary Ad­monitions; briefly, to hear by his Voice, that of the Sovereign Pastor of Souls, whose Place he represents. And as to the Obligation, it is sufficient to manifest by the End of that Instruction so necessary for the Salvation of Souls, and Decrees of Councils so often repeated, make it ap­pear that it is very strict, and that with­out a great and just Cause, one cannot be therein dispensed.

Things being thus, is it not a thing worthy of astonishment, to see so holy and necessary an Institution neglected and despis'd after such a manner, that it seems as if Parishes were but for a few of the meaner sort, for aged Men, and young Girls? and that Christians should now adays contemn a thing, the privation whereof was heretofore a Punishment for the greatest Crimes.

This Contempt befalls many for diffe­rent Reasons. Some do it out of a pure want of Devotion, which makes them ap­prehend the length of the Parish Mass upon a Day dedicated to Piety, and seek a short one that they may employ the re­mainder of the Holy Day in Idleness, in Vanities and Recreations. What shame is it for Christians to make so little ac­count of the sanctification of Feasts, of the Ordinances of God and of his Church, and of their own Salvation, that they [Page 176]should rather choose miserably to spend the time of the Service of God in Foole­ries, than to employ it in the Divine Ho­nor, and the sanctification of their Souls, and to learn something for their Salva­tion? It is a deplorable Disorder which made St. Augustin say,Observemus diem domini­cam & sancti­ficemus illam. Videamus ne otium no­strum vanum sit: Sed à vespera diei Sabbati usque ad vesperam diei dominici sequestrati à rurali opere atque ab omni negotio, soli divino cultui vacemus. Nullus se à sacra Mis­sarum celebratione separet, neque otiosus quis domi remaneat; caeteris ad Ecclesiam pergentibus, neque in venatione se occupet & diabolico mancipetur officio circum vagando campos, & sylvas, clamorem & chachinnum ore exaltans, non gemitum & orationis verba ex intimo pectore ad Deum proferens. Aug. Serm. 251. that those who employ thus the holy Time of Sundays, are fetter'd and enslav'd to the Service of the Devil, when they ought to addict themselves to Prayer, and to lament for their Sins in the sight of God from the bot­tom of their Hearts.

Others despise this Obligation by a se­cret Pride, which makes them affect a cer­tain Liberty to go where they please on those Holy Days, a Liberty which is ra­ther a Licentiousness, and a Rebellion to the Orders of the Church,O libertas servitute om­ni servitior! quae me pes­sime addicat superbiae ser­vituti; plus ti­meo dentes lapi quam vir­gam Pastoris: Advertens nimirum cruenta bestia quae circuit quae­rens quem devoret, elongatam custodiam; heu statim incidit in praesumptorem. S. Bern. Epist. 4. and which S. Bernard says is to be a Servant of the greatest sort of Slavery; because by this Liberty flying the Sight and Conduct of their Pastor, they wander, and fall to be a Prey for Wolves, that is, into a great [Page 177]disorder of Life; the Devil never having more advantage to seise upon a Soul, than when she is not directed nor observ'd by any one, as the same Saint takes notice.

There are others who excuse them­selves by reason of their Affairs; But it is a very strange thing, that Christians, who have no Affair of greater Importance than their Salvation, after they have em­ploy'd all the Week in temporal Oc­cupations, should not allot the Sunday, which God hath reserv'd for his Service to the Divine Worship, and Salvation of their Souls. This Excuse is very com­mon, but not to be allow'd, neither will it be accepted in the sight of God. I would gladly ask those Persons, whether they pretend to be exempt from the Sanctifica­tion of the Sunday? God hath given Six Days to Men to Labor, he would have us rest upon the Seventh Day, to apply our selves entirely to religious Actions, and particularly to Three; To give him Honor, To sanctifie our Souls, And to Meditate upon the eternal Repose which we must purchase in this Life. I demand, where is that ceasing from Labor, and that application to pious things? and whe­ther this be to sanctifie a Holy Day, or rather employ it totally in Business, ex­cept the time of a short Mass, oftentimes heard with a Mind full of distractions? I beseech those who live thus, to make the following Reflection, and consider well that Admonition of S. Austin, in the place [Page 178]which I have already cited, where he says,Ideo à san­ctis patribus nostris consti­tutum est Christianis & mandatum ut in solemnita­tibus sancto­rum, & maxi­me in domini­cis diebus oti­um haberent & à terreno negotio vaca­rent, ut pa­ratiores & promptiores essent, ad di­vinum cultum cum non ha­berent quod eos inde re­tardaret in­commodum, relinquerentque eo tempore terrenam sollicitudinem quo facilius possent Dei intendere voluntatem. Inde ipse Domi­nus per Prophetam dicit, vacate & videte, quoniam ego sum Deus. At hi qui diversis curis ac negotiis implicati hanc sententiam Dei spernunt, timeo quod in futuro judicio illis januam Domini pul­santibus, Dominus respondeat. Amen dico vobis, nescio vos, disce­dite à me omnes qui operamini iniquitatem, & qui modo Deum quaerere negligunt, ab ipso tunc respuantur. Aug. Serm. 251. Christians are commanded to repose upon Festival Days, and principally upon Sundays, to be the better dispos'd to the Service of God, and to cease upon those Days from temporal Affairs, that they may apply themselves more easily to God, as he himself exhorts us by that Saying of the Prophet, Cease from Labor, and consider that I am God; but those who by the Embroilment of Cares and Affairs, con­temn this Exhortation of God, and refuse to apply themselves to holy Things, give us a great reason to doubt, that at the Day of Judgment, when they shall knock at the Gate, it will be answer'd them, I know you not, be gon from hence, you who work Iniquity; and that thus they shall be then rejected by God, as they were negligent in searching after him, when it was in their power.

In fine, there are others who absent themselves from their Parishes on Sundays and solemn Feasts, under pretence of Piety, some saying that they have more Devo­tion elsewhere than in the Parish; others by reason of some Congregation or Con­fraternity which hinders them from being present there; others have their Ghostly Father somewhere else.

But the First ought to know, that the sensible Devotion is not always the most solid, it having frequently more of Imagi­nation than of Truth; and what they say they have, which makes them neglect and depart from the Orders of the Church, is not a Devotion, but rather an Illusion.

Concerning the Second, I maintain, that it is an Abuse to prefer the Works of Counsel before those of Obligation; and that God loves Obedience better than Sacrifice; that is, the Works commanded, better than the Devotions which come from our proper Inclination: And that it is a strange thing, that there being so many other times in the Week, and on the Feasts themselves to satisfie their free Devotions, one should employ therein the Days, and even Hours, which are de­dicated to the Duties of the Parish.

To the Third I answer, that it were often better for them to have their Con­fessor in the Parish, altho' it were only to practise Submission, and give good Exam­ple in this Action. But if for good and solid Reasons they Confess themselves to others, which they ought to do as often as is possible by the Advice of their Pa­stor, they ought to manage their time so well, that this freedom which is allow'd them, may not hinder them from assisting at the Parish upon Holy Days, and gi­ving there the Example and Edification which the Church requires of them.

For Conclusion, Theotime, I exhort you [Page 180]to be faithful and diligent in your Parish Church, and not to absent your self for any of the Reasons I have spoken. Consi­der her as your Mother, who hath brought you sort to Jesus Christ by holy Baptism, and Educated you in Christianity: She is charged with the care of your Soul, she must answer for you to God, she must con­duct you during your Life to the Point of Salvation, and assist you at the Hour of Death. Love her tenderly as a Child loves his Mother, be obedient to her, re­ceive from her your spiritual Sustenance of Doctrin, and of the holy Sacraments; walk under her Eye and Government, with Respect and Confidence; receive from others all the assistance you can, but expect from her your principal Conduct, and be zealous to follow that great Ad­vertisement of the Apostle,Obedite Prae­positis vestris & subjacete eis: Ipsi enim pervigilant quasi ratio­nem pro ani­mabus vestris reddituri, ut cum gaudio hoc faciant, & non gementes, hoc enim non expedit vobis. Heb. 12. Obey your Su­periors, and be subject to them, for they watch over you, as being to give an account of your Souls, that they may perform their Duty with joy, and not with sorrow, for that is not convenient for you.

The End of the Second Part.

Of the Obstacles which divert young Persons from Vertue.

IT is not sufficient for him who Con­ducts another in a Voyage, to shew him the Way he must keep, and the Means he must make use of to arrive at the Place assign'd; he must also advertise him of the Dangers he will En­counter in the Way, and arm him against all Obstacles which may retard or hinder the happy Success of his Voyage. Thus the Angel Raphael, of whom we have spo­ken above, did not content himself to guide young Toby, but secur'd him from the Ob­stacles which presented themselves to him [Page 182]in the Way; and amongst others, from the Monster he met with upon the brink of the River Tigris, from which he not only protected him, but caus'd him to reap a great Advantage by it.

For this reason, dear Theotime, after ha­ving shew'd you the Way to Salvation, and the Means you ought to practise to acquire Vertue in your Youth; it is ne­cessary I should discover unto you the Im­pediments you shall find in the Way. This is what I shall perform in this Third Part, wherein I shall lay open the Causes which are accustom'd to destroy those of your Age, in withdrawing them from Vertue, and casting them into Vice; and I shall shew you the Means how to preserve, and even advantage your self very much by them for your improvement in Vertue.

The first Obstacle of the Salvation of Youth, the want of Instruction.

THE first Hindrance of the Salvation of young Persons, is Ignorance, or want of Instruction. We must know a Good, that we may love it; and to know it, it is necessary we should be Instructed therein, we not being able to our selves to learn it, who bring nothing with us into the World but Ignorance and Sin. God [Page 183]says by his Prophet, thatPropterea captivus du­cuts est popu­lus meus, quia non habuit scientiam. Isa. 5. his People were sent into Captivity, because they had not Sci­ence; that is, the Instruction and Know­ledge of their Salvation. And the Wise­man says, thatUbi non est scientia ani­mae, non est bonum. Prov. 19. where there is no Science, there is no good for the Salvation of Souls.

This Impediment is great, and it is the first Fountain of the corruption of Youth. It is by so much more to be de­plor'd, as it is common and extended to many; it being certain, that the greatest part of Youth is lost for want of Instru­ction, and not being solidly Train'd up in the Maxims of Vertue. Fathers neglect to Instruct their Children in true Piety, and bestow all their Care in Educating them in Vanity, in Pleasures, in the love of Earthly Goods, and in the Maxims of the World. Masters employ often the great­est part of their Labor to advance their Scholars in Learning, and very little to make them understand the Science of Salvation; Children concern themselves little to be Instructed, and frequently fly Instruction all they can; which is the reason why they continue in Igno­rance, in wicked Habits, and are lost with­out remedy.

For the Proof of this Verity, I shall re­count you here two Examples quite con­trary.Quis enim hominum non extollebat laudibus tunc patrem me­um, quod ul­tra vires rei familiaris suae impenderet fillo, quid­quid etiam longè pere­grinanti stu­diorum causa opus esset? cum interea non satageret idem pater qualis crescerem tibi; aut quam castus essem, dummodo lessem disertus, aut potius desertus à cultura tua Deus! qui es unus verus, & bonus Dominus agri cordis mei. Aug. lib. 2. Conf. cap. 3. S. Augustin in his Confessions deploring the Corruption of his Youth, attributes a great cause of it to the want of Instruction, and to the blindness of his Father, who using all Endeavors to ad­vance [Page 184]his Son in his Studies, and make him Learned and Eloquent, neglected in the mean time the most necessary thing, viz. the Care of his Manners, and of his In­struction in Vertue, without which all Science could but serve to render him more displeasing to God, and more remov'd from his Grace.

On the contrary, the Scripture making a recital of the generous Action of chast Susanna, who chose rather to expose her self to the false Accusations of those two infamous old Men, and to be prosecuted to Death, than to Sin in the sight of God, by consenting to a detestable Crime, which those wretched Men solicited her to, attributed the Cause of this holy Acti­on to her Piety, and to her Instruction re­ceiv'd from her Parents; the Words it makes use of are remarkable:Joachim ac­cepit uxorem nomine Susan­nam, filiam Helciae, pul­chram nimis & timentem Deum; parentes enim ejus cum effent justi, erudie­runt filiam suam secundum legem Moysi. Dan. 13. She had the fear of God, because her Parents being just, had instructed her according to the Law of Moses.

O dear Theotime, Practice. have a care of this Obstacle, as of one of the greatest Impedi­ments of your Salvation; love and seek Instruction. And if God hath bestow'd [Page 185]upon you Parents or Masters, who are so­licitous to put you into the Path of Ver­tue, give him Thanks for this incompara­ble Favor, and use your Endeavor to ad­vantage your self thereby. But if your Parents have not sufficient care of your Instruction in Vertue, seek after it your self by the Means we have pointed at a­bove in Part 2. Chap. 3, 4, & 5. and call to mind often that excellent Sentence of Solomon, Cor sapiens quaerit doctri­nam & os stul­torum pasci­tur imperitia. Prov. 15. A wise Heart seeks Instruction, and the unwise is pleas'd with Ignorance.

The Second Obstacle, the too much Indulgence of Parents, their ill Example, and the bad Instruction they give their Children.

IT is but too true, that the Ruin of Chil­dren springs most commonly from the Fault of Parents, who are wanting in this great Obligation God hath impos'd upon them, of Educating them in his Fear, and disposing them to Vertue.

Now there are four Defects which Pa­rents may be guilty of in this Obligation, which most frequently are the Cause of the Corruption and Ruin of Children.Four Faults Parents may commit in the Instruction of their Children.1. When they neglect to Instruct them in the knowledge of Vertue and their Salva­tion. 2. When they are too Indulgent in their Place, giving too much Liberty, and not Correcting them when they do ill. [Page 186]3. When they give them bad Example by their Actions. 4. When they suborn them in things contrary to Piety. We have spoken above of the First Defect.

As to the Second, it is not to be ima­gin'd how common this Fault is amongst Parents, and how it daily destroys Chil­dren, appears by Experience. The greatest part of fathers and Masters affect their Children with a foolish and blind Love, which regards nothing but the present and sensible Good of their Children, and are afraid to give them the least trouble, by keeping them within the Bounds of Vertue by a discreet Admonition, or by a reasonable Correction; they choose rather to leave them in their wicked Inclinations, which for want of Correction encreasing with Age, make them wicked and vicious for all the remainder of this Life, and mi­serable after this Life for all Eternity.

Misfortunate Parents! who by this sort of Mildness precipitate themselves with their Children, into the deep Pit of Wick­edness; like those foolish Animals, which kill their young ones by the vehemence of embracing them. Blind Fathers, who see not that this Mercy you shew to your Children, is the greatest Cruelty you can exercise in your Condition; and you would not be so cruel, if you took a­way their Life with your own Hands; it being certain, that by this Inhumanity you would but destroy their Bodies, where­as by your Mildness you cause the ruin [Page 187]of their Souls, and the eternal loss of their Salvation. The time will come wherein your Children will lay their Curses on you, will require of God revenge against you, and will accuse you as the Authors of their Misfortune; witness he who be­ing Condemn'd to Death, cry'd out aloud, It is not the Judge, but my Mother, who is the Cause of my Punishment.

Your culpable Meekness will one day draw upon you the Curse of God, and also upon your Children. Upon your selves, because you have neither Instructed nor Corrected them, when they stood in need. Upon your Children, because they made use of your Indulgence, to give themselves over to vice and Disorder.

See the Example of the High Priest Heli recounted above, and learn from that terrible Punishment God laid upon him, what you ought to expect: For all the Miseries which besel as well him as his Children and his whole House, and for their first and principal Source, the great Indulgence he had towards his Children, not Correcting them for their Sins: This is the Testimony God himself gives there­of; I will judge, says he, the House of Heli, Praedixi quod judicaturus essem domum ejus, propter iniquitatem, eo quod no­verat indignè agere filios, & non corripuerit eos. 1 Reg. 3. by reason of his Iniquity, because having knowledge of the wicked Life of his Children, he hath neither reprehended nor corrected them.

I cannot sufficiently exaggerate this Fault of Parents, Theotime, to raise in you so great a horror as it deserves.Practice. It is to admonish you, if God hath bestow'd upon you wise and vertuous Parents, who have had a great care to Instruct you in Vertue, to Reprehend you when you were faulty, that you acknowledge the Obligation you owe to God, and make good use of this high Favor, by rendring your self pliable, and easie to be Instructed by their Admo­nitions. But on the contrary, if your Parents, forgetful of their own Duty and your Salvation, fail to reprehend you when you commit any Misdemeanor, have a great care lest you be ruin'd by their misfortunate Indulgence. Beg of God very earnestly that he would change their Disposition, and give you Masters who would supply their Defect, and take notice of your Actions to redress them, when you shall wander never so little out of the Path of Vertue.

I say the same, if your Parents be not only negligent in reprehending you, but what is yet worse, if they give you ill Example, teaching you, as it often hap­pens, by their Actions, to love the Plea­sures of this Life, to desire Riches without measure, to affect Vanity, to be Proud, Ambitious, Cholerick, seeking Revenge, not suffering the least Injury, Immodest in Words, addicted to Feasting, to Drun­kenness, to Impurity, and other like things. And yet more, if they be so miserable as [Page 189]to teach you by their Discourses, one or many Vices, approve or praise them when you have committed them. O God, dear Child, stand in fear of all these Occasions, you cannot be in a greater danger of your Salvation; and having recourse to God, beseech him that he would illuminate you to discern Good from Evil, that he would strengthen your Mind against the bad Im­pressions you shall receive, and not be de­stroy'd by their Fault, who ought to be the first who should contribute to your Salvation.

The Third Obstacle of the Salvation of Youth, the Ʋntractableness of young Persons.

SAint Jerom says excellently well,Saepe magister peccat, saepe discipulus, & nonnunquam patris vitium est, nonnun­quam filii, ut male erudia­tur. S. Hier. in cap. 6. Mi­chaeae. That altho' the depravation of Children springs often from the Parents, and Ma­sters Pault, yet it very frequently pro­ceeds also from the Childrens Wicked­ness, who will not receive Instruction, and this Fault is call'd Ʋntractableness.

This Untractableness is a want of sub­mission to the Conduct of others, or a se­cret Presumption of ones self, by which one will not be inform'd of the Truth he ought to know, nor receive Advice in those things he ought to do, nor be Re­prov'd and Corrected when he has err'd, nor Exhorted to Good when he has done amiss.

This Vice is one of the worst Quali­ties a Mind can be infected with.A very bad Quality of the Mind.

For if we regard its Causes, it proceeds from Pride,Its Causes. which makes them contemn all that comes from another, or from Ob­stinacy, or Confidence in their own Judg­ment, or from a too great Lightness of Mind, which considers nothing, and which makes them despise the most important things.

If we consider its Effects,Its Effects. it infallibly causes the Corruption and Ruin of those who are infected with it, being it takes away all Means of Correction or Amend­ment; for how should one do Good, if he will not know it? How correct his Faults, if he will not be rebuked? The Sick who will acknowledg his Distemper, and re­jects the Remedies for it, is out of hope of any Cure.

For this reason the Sacred Scripture in many places, and principally in the Pro­verbs, where it Instructs more particu­larly young People, speaks so effectually against this Vice, as being one of the great­est Obstacles of their Salvation, and ex­horts so frequently young Persons willing­ly to receive Instructions, Counsels and Admonitions.

As for Instructions, it says, ThatSapientiam & disciplinam qui abjicit, in­felix est. Sa. 3. he who rejects Wisdom and Instruction is misfortunate. Sapiens cor­de praecepta suscipiet, stultus caeditur labiis. Prov. 10. The Wise receives Precepts in his Heart, and the Ʋnwise cannot endure Instruction. [Page 191] Cor iniqui inquirit ma­la; cor autem rectum inqui­rit Scientiam. Prov. 27. The Heart of the Wicked seeks Evil, and the Heart of the Just searches after Science. d There is more Amendment expected from a Fool, than from him who thinks himself Wise.

As for Counsels it says, ThatVia stulti recta in oculis ejus, qui au­tem sapiens est, audit con­silia. Prov. 12. the Fool thinks all well that he does, but the Wise hear­kens to Counsels. Qui confidit in corde suo stultus est, qui autem gradi­tur sapienter, ipse salvabitur. Prov. 28, He who confides in his own Heart, that is, in his own Mind and Conduct, is a Fool; and he who walks wisely shall be sav'd. g Give ear, says it, to Coun­sel, receive Instruction, that you may be Wise at the end of your Days.

What doth it not say of Reprehensions? It says, ThatQui diligit disciplinam. diligit scien­tiam; qui au­tem odit in­crepationem, insipiens est. Prov. 12. he who loves Discipline, loves Science, and he who hates Reprehen­sion is a Fool. Non amat pestilens eum qui se corri­pit, nec ad sa­pientes gradi­tur. Prov. 15. The wicked doth not love him who reproves him, neither doth he seek the Conversation of the Wise. Qui abjicit disciplinam, despicit animam suam; qui autem acquiescit increpa­tionibus possessor est cordis. Ibid. He who hath rejected Discipline, despises his own Soul; he who yields to Reprehensions, possesses his Heart. l An impious Man never blushes, but the Just corrects his Ways. m An obdu­rate Heart will make a wicked End. n He who hates Reprehension, shall die.

But above all, take notice what it says in the 29th Chapter of the Proverbs. Viro qui corripientem se dura cer­vice contem­nit, reprenti­nus ei super­veniet interi­tus, & eum sanitas non sequetur. Prov. 15. A sudden destruction which never shall be re­pair'd, will befall him, who obstinately con­temns Correction. What can be said more to shew the greatness of this Impiety, and raise an apprehension of the heinousness of it?

Wherefore, Theotime, have a care of this Vice, as of one of the greatest Impe­diments of your Salvation; acknowledge it if you be infected with it, and use all the Endeavors possible to be cur'd, and to get a tractable Mind, which loves to be Instructed, Counsell'd, Reprov'd, and Ex­horted to Good. Now to obtain it, this is what you must do.

1. Beg daily of God this Spirit, and demand it earnestly, as a thing most im­portant, and on which all our Good de­pends.

2. Keep always in your Mind that ex­cellent Advertisement of wise Solomon; Nunc ergo, fili mi, audi me, & ne re­cedas à verbis oris mei: ne gemas in no­vissimis, & di­cas; cur de­testatus sum disciplinam, & increpatio­nibus non ac­quievit cor meum, nec audivi vocem docentium me, & magistris non incli­navi aurem meam? Prov. 5 Son, hearken to me, and depart not from my Counsels, lest at the end of your Life you be constrain'd to lament, and be sorry for your Ʋntractableness, saying, Why have I refus'd to be Directed? Why have I not willingly receiv'd Corrections? Why have I not heark­ned to the Voice of those who have Instruct­ed me, and why am not I made Tractable and Obedient to my Masters? But alas, Theo­time, it will be too late to be sorry then, [Page 193]when it shall have happen'd to you, and when there will be no remedy.

3. Perswade your self,A most impor­tant Advice for young Persons. that you are in an Age full of Ignorance, subject to many Failings, wherein you are not able to Conduct your self, but that you necessari­ly stand in need of the Directions of o­thers; which consist in Instructions, Coun­sels, Reprehensions, and Exhortations. And in a word, that during your Youth, Tractableness and Submission to the In­struction of others, is so necessary, that on that Vertue depends your good Edu­cation, your Advancement in Vertue, your Happiness in this Life, and your Eternal Salvation in the next.

4. Love to be Instructed in Vertue, and be inclin'd to learn Good willingly of any one. Ask Counsel freely, even in those things, Fili fine con­silio nihil fa­cias, & post factum non poenitebit. Eccl. 32. wherein you think you have sufficient under­standing. O what an excellent Maxim is that, to do all things with Counsel! It is the Maxim of the Wiseman; Son, do no­thing without Counsel, and you will not re­pent when the Work is done.

Be not offended when you are reprov'd for your Faults.Grande pec­catum est o­disse corripi­entem, maxi­me si te non odio, sed amo­re corripiat. S. Hieron. in cap. 5. Amos. It is a great Sin (says S. Jerom) to hate him who reprehends you, principally if the Correction proceeds from the Love he bears you. Defend not your self obstinately, it is the sign of a great Pride; but on the contrary, yield hum­bly to a Reproof, acknowledge your Fault, and endeavor to amend.

5. Remember, that Tractableness doth [Page 194]not only consist in willingly receiving In­structions, Counsels, Reprehensions, and Exhortations, but also in advantaging your self by them, and putting them in practice.

For Conclusion, I shall give you that ex­cellent Saying of S. Jerom; Bonum est obedire ma­joribus, pare­re praeceptis: & post regulas Scripturarum vitae suae tra­mitem ab aliis discere, Nec praeceptore uti pessimo, scilicet praesumptione sua. Hieron. Epist. ad Demetriadem de virg. servanda. It is good to obey your Elders, and to follow the Orders of Superiors, and after the Rules of Scripture, learn from others the Path of Life which you ought to follow, and make not use of a very ill Master, viz. your own Presumption.

The Fourth Obstacle, Inconstancy.

IF Untractableness be very common a­mongst young People, Inconstancy in Good is yet more frequent, and it puts a very great Impediment to your Salvation. Some young Spirits are found tractable and pliable to receive Instructions, Coun­sels, and Admonitions, but there are few who are firm and constant to observe them well.

They have a Spirit subject to change, which adheres to all sorts of Objects, lets it self be carry'd away by all its first Mo­tions, be tossed by divers Passions, which permit it not to continue long in the same course. They are scarce able to make one solid Resolution, chiefly in that which [Page 195]concerns Vertue, much less form or Exer­cise it when it is made, the first Occasion carries them away, and makes them for­get all their good Designs.

If Inconstancy be not corrected in good time, it puts a great Obstacle to the Salva­tion of young People, and absolutely hin­ders them from learning Vertue. Seed cannot take root in a moving Sand, nor Vertue in a light Mind, which changes upon all Occasions.

For this reason the Wiseman gives you that admirable Advertisement, Theotime; Non venti­les in omnem ventum, & non eas in om­nem viam. Esto firmus in via Domini. Eccles. 5. Turn not at every wind, go not into every way, be firm in the way of our Lord.

This Inconstancy in God springs prin­cipally from three Causes.

1. From a Levity natural to that Age,Three Causes of Inconstancy. which renders young Persons inconstant in all their Actions. They are changeable in all their Inclinations, in their Thoughts, in their Designs, and in their Resolutions; hence it comes that they are so inconstant in Good.

2. It springs from this, that they are not solidly convinc'd of the Importance of their Salvation, and of the necessity they have of addicting themselves to Vertue in their Youth.

3. It comes from the want of Conduct, and from this, that they not being capable to Conduct themselves, take not the Coun­sel of others for the guidance of their [Page 196]Life, or if they take it, it is but for a short time, they soon reject it, abandon them­selves to the Motions of their inconstant Mind.

For the cure of this Inconstancy, there is to be apply'd a Remedy to these three Causes.

First then,Its Remedy. Theotime, endeavor to cor­rect in your self as much as you can, that natural Levity of your Age, which makes you subject to mutation in the greatest part of your Actions. Be constant in all that you perform; change not easily your Resolutions, your Enterprises, nor your Employments, except with Reason and Counsel: In a word, govern your self by Reason, and not by Fancy and Caprichio.

Secondly, Labor to fix your Mind in Piety by good Thoughts, and frequent Reflections on your Salvation, and on the necessity you have to live vertuously in your Youth; the reading of the First Part of this Book will serve for that end.

Thirdly,An important Advice. Submit your self to the Con­duct of a wise Confessor; Follow his Coun­sels, and the Rule of Life he shall prescribe to you; Give him an Account of your A­ctions from time to time, that he may set you in a good Way when you are out of it; Perform nothing, of how little con­sequence soever, without his Counsel, or that of some other prudent Person.

But above all, beg of God frequently, that he will bestow upon you a Mind con­stant in its good Resolutions, and fix you [Page 197]in Piety by the Conduct of his Grace.Perfice gres­sus meos in semitis tuis, ut non move­antur vestigia mea. Psal. 16. God, direct my Steps, that is, my Actions, in the Path of thy Commandments, that I may never wander out of it. Have often before your Eyes that excellent Sentence of the Wiseman;Homo san­ctus in sapi­entia manet, sicut sol, stul­tus ut Luna mutatur. Eccl. 27. A religions or pious Man continues fix'd in Vertue, like the Sun, which never loses his Light; but the Fool, that is, a Sinner, changes like the Moon, which is not constantly in the same State.

The Fifth Obstacle, A Shame to do Good.

AMongst the Means the Devil hath invented to pervert Souls, there is none which he makes a greater advantage of, to keep them securely in Vice than a Shame to do Good; a Shame by which he deplorably seduces Mens Minds, and prin­cipally young Persons; who being by the tenderness of their Age more apt to re­ceive the Impressions of Fear and Shame, give Occasion to that miserable Spirit,Omne malum aut pudore aut timore natura suffu­dit. Tertul. in Apol. maliciously to abuse their Facility, and natural Shamesac'dness to make them con­ceive that Shame and Confusion in respect of Piety and Vertue, which was only made for Sin.

For this effect he puts into their mind these false and vain Imaginations, viz. The Means the Devil uses to raise Shame in young Persons. That Vertue is contemn'd amongst Men, That they are little esteem'd who follow [Page 198]it, That if they should apply themselves to do well, they should be despis'd, yea, even mockt at. He actually represents un­to their thoughts the Contempt and Scoffs of others; and by these Artifices he with­draws them from the Way of Vertue, stopping and stifling in them by this fool­ish Shame, all the good Thoughts and De­sires they had conceiv'd concerning their Salvation. And sometimes this misfor­tunate Shame gets such powerful possession over their Minds, that they not only blush to do Good, and appear Vertuous, but even glory in their Vices, and have a kind of Confusion not to be as Wicked as the most Vicious; as it happen'd to S. Au­gustin, who deplores his Misfortune and Blindness in this Point, in the Second Book of his Confessions, Chap. 3. We shall re­late his Words in the following Chapter.

If this pernicious Shame hath taken possession of your Mind, you must account it for one of the greatest Obstacles of your Salvation; and if you labor not in good time to over come it, it will infallibly destroy you. Now to conquer it, arm your self against it with these Reflections.

1.Remedy. Why do you blush? Are you asham'd of Vertue and the Service of God,Dilectio Dei honorabilis sapientia. Eccl. 1. than which there is nothing more Honorable in the World? You account it a Glory to Serve a Prince upon Earth, and will you blush at the Service of the King of Heaven, your Sovereign Lord, to whom you owe all that you are? What strange Blindness [Page 199]is this! But take notice, that one never blushes, except it be for some thing which is either Wicked or Indecent, or too ab­ject or unworthy of ones Self: So that if you are asham'd of Vertue, you put it into the rank of one of these; What an In­dignity is this!

2. Before whom do you blush? Before the Wicked, whose Judgment is absolute­ly perverted, who judge that to be wicked which is good, and that good which is wicked, having no other Rule for their Opinion than their deprav'd Inclinations. If they contemn you, it is because they hate Vertue, and those who follow it.Execratio peccatori cul­tura Dei. Eccl. 1.32. Detestantur stulti eos qui fugiunt mala. Prov. 13.20. Ambulans re­cto itinere & timens domi­num despici­tur ab eo qui infami gradi­tur via. Prov. 14.2. The Service of God is an Execration to Sinners, says the Wiseman. Fools detest those who fly from Vice. It is ordinary, that he who walks in the Path of Vertue, and fears God, should be despis'd by the World and wicked Persons, who follow the infamous Track of Vice. If the Esteem of Men move you, why seek you not after the Esteem of wise and vertuous Men, who respect and honor you when you do well?

3. Call to mind that dreadful Menace which the Son of God gave to all those who blush at his Service;Qui erubu­erit me & ser­mones meos, hunc filius ho­minis erube­scet, cum ve­nerit in maje­state sua. Luc. 9. He who shall be asham'd of me, and my words, I will be a­sham'd of him when I shall come in glory; that is, he will not acknowledge them for his. Remember that fearful Confusion which at the Day of Judgment will cover the Face of those who have blush'd in this Life at the Service of God, when their [Page 200]Sins shall be expos'd to the view of the whole World; and that for the Shame they had for Vertue.Dabo vobis in opprobri­um sempiter­num & igno­miniam aeter­nam quae nun­quam oblivi­one delebitur. Jer. 23. v. 40. they shall be a­bandon'd to an eternal Disgrace and Con­fusion, which shall never be blotted out of the memory of the Angels and Saints, as the Scripture testifies.

O dear Child, demand frequently of God,Practice. that he would strengthen your Mind against this Misfortune, which is nothing but the pure Imagination of a weak Spirit. Accustom your self betimes to perform good Works freely, without regarding what others speak or esteem of them. Despise their Contempts, and mock at their Scoffs, and reflect what a great Folly it is to prefer the Esteem of Men before your Eternal Salvation; and to please a small number of lewd Men, not to value the Displeasure of all wise Persons, of all the Saints in Heaven, and of God himself. Weigh well this Reflection.

The Sixth Obstacle, Wicked Company.

How hurtful it is.

O dear Theotime, how should I rejoyce, if I had Eloquence enough to make you comprehend, and all those of your Age [Page 201]understand the greatness of this Impedi­ment of your Salvation, and clearly set before your Eyes the multitude of young People who are daily ruin'd by wicked Company.

It is in this where ordinarily the Devil sets his Snares for Youth;A Snare of the Devil for young People. and those whom he could not destroy either by the want of Instruction, or by the Indulgence of Pa­rents, or by the Untractableness of their Minds, or by Inconstancy, or by a Shame of doing well, he perverts by frequenting ill Company. Their Discourses, their Examples and bad Conversations, serve him as Instruments to corrupt the most holy, and subvert the State of a good Conscience; and frequently by one of these Means he has bred great Disorders in Souls, which were almost ignorant of Sin, and had conserv'd Vertue amidst the most dangerous Occasions.

O God! is it possible that this malig­nant Spirit finds no Instruments more powerful to destroy Men, than Men them­selves? nor to make use of as Servants and Ministers to execute against their own Brethren, the Rage he has conceiv'd a­gainst them, and the Design he hath laid to draw them, together with himself into Eternal Damnation? I know not whe­ther I should most deplore, those who con­tribute by their Discourses or Examples to the ruin of others, or those who suffer themselves to be perverted by them for want of flying and avoiding their Conver­sation, [Page 202]more than those infected with the Plague.

Concering the First,Noli cibo tuo perdere pro quo Chri­stus mortuus est. Rom. 14. are not they sadly miserable, to destroy by their Con­versation those for whom Jesus Christ hath Dy'd? as if it were not sufficient to damn themselves,Errantes & in errorem mittentes. 2 Tim. 3. but also to be the cause of Damnation of their Brethren; to be the Author of their Depravation, and of an infinite number of Sins which they com­mit; to be the Instruments of the Ma­lice of the Devils, and perform by them­selves the Office of that detestable Fiend, which is to move Men to Sin, and preci­pitate them into hell.Vox sangui­nis fratris tui clamat ad me de terra. Gen. 4. Sanguinem ejus de manu tua requiret. Ezech. 3. Wretched Cain, you shall answer for the Souls of your Brethren; the voice of their Blood which you have spilt, that is, of their Salvation which you have ruin'd, cries to God for Vengeance against you; he will seek for it from your hands, you must render him an account of it, Soul for Soul.Vae homini illi per quem scandalum ve­nit. Matth. 18. Wo, wo, says the Son of God, to that Man by whom Scandal happens.

And as for the others, are not they much to be deplor'd, to permit themselves thus misfortunately to be abus'd, and perverted by the Conversation of the Wicked? which often befalls them after they have been well advertis'd, that there is nothing more dangerous for Youth than wicked Company; that that is the Rock where many are irreparably Shipwreckt, and also frequently when they had made Ex­perience of it themselves, to the great [Page 203]detriment of their Salvation. After all this, not to avoid these Precipices, but to go wilfully without fear into these Companies, which they ought to shun more than Death it self, O God! what a deplorable Blindness is it.

I conjure you in the Name of God, dear Theotime, to have a care of this Impedi­ment of your Salvation, and not thus mi­serably lose your self for want of Pre­caution; Or to speak more properly, it is not I who make this Exhortation to you, but the Holy Ghost. Hearken to the Prophets, who cry out to all those who desire to be sav'd; Retire, retire, depart from Sinners, Pollutum nolite tange­re. Isa. 12. touch not that which is un­clean. Fugite de medio Babilo­nis & salvet unusquisque animam suam, Jer. 51. Fly from the midst of Babylon, and let every one apply his thoughts to the Salva­tion of his Soul.

Give ear to the Wiseman, who exhorts you with a Fatherly Affection;Fili mi, si te lactaverint peccatores, ne quiescas eis, si dixerint ve­ni nobiscum, ne ambules cum eis. Pro. 1. Son, if Sinners entire thee, consent not: If they say, Come with us, O my Child, walk not in the way with them, restrain thy foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and make hast to shed blood. And afterwards he says,Ne delecte­ris in semitis impiorum, nec tibi placeat malorum via. Fuge ab ea, ne transeas per eam, declina & desere eam. Ibid. cap. 4. Take not pleasure to follow the wicked, nor be delighted with the ways of the impious; fly from them, and walk not in that road, decline and depart far from it.

How there are two things hurtful in wicked Company, Discourse and Example.

The same holy Spirit doth admonish you, that there are two things in the Conversation of the Wicked which we must stand in dread of, their Discourse and Example.

As for the Discourses, S. Paul the Apo­stle cries out aloud to all, Nolite sedu­ci, corrumpunt mores bonos colloquia pra­va. 2. Cor. 15. Permit not your selves to be seduc'd; for wicked Discourses corrupt good Manners.Prophana autem & ina­ni-loquia de­vita, multum enim profici­unt ad impie­tatem. 2 Tim. 2. Avoid (says he to Timothy) the prophane Discourses of the Impious, for they advance Wickedness.Lingua ig­nis est univer­sitas iniquita­tis, inflammat rotam nativi­tatis nostrae inflammata à gehenna. Jacob. 3. S. James says, that The Tongue is a Fire, which being enkindled from Hell, inflames Souls with Sin.Sepulchrum patens est guttur eorum. Psal. 5. David says, that The Mouth of Sinners is an open Sepulchre, from whence issue noisom Stenches to infect Souls.Acuerunt linguas suas sicut serpentis, venenum aspidum sub labiis corum. Psal. 139. That the Wicked have a Tongue of a Serpent, and carry the Poison of Asps in their Lips; by which they envenom those who give attention to them.

Now if the Vicious sometimes forbear their wicked Discourses, their Example never fails to make strong Impressions. Qui selige­rit picem in­quinabitur ab ea: & qui communica­verit fuperbo induet super­biam. Eccl. 23. Noli esse ami­cus homini iracundo, ne discas semitas ejus. Prov. 22. v. 24. Qui cum sa­pientibus gra­ditur, sapiens erit. Amicus stultorum si­milis efficie­tur. Prov. 13. He who toucheth Pitch, says the Wiseman, shall be defiled, and he who converseth with a [Page 205]proud Man, will be infected with Pride. Contract not Friendship with an angry and cholerick Man, lest you initate his Example. He who converseth with the wise will become wise. A Friend of Fools, that is, of Sin­ners, will be like unto them. Example hath an incredible force upon the Minds of young Persons, and principally to incline them to Evil. The Friendship that is contracted with the Wicked brings Com­placence, and Complacence invites to Imi­tation. O nimis ini­mica amicitia, & seductio mentis; nul­la lucti mei causa, nulla ulciscendi libidini, sed cum dicitur eamus, faciamus, & pudet non esse impudentem. S. Aug. lib. Conf. 9. O, Friendship, what a great Ene­my art thou (saith S. Augustin) to the good of Souls! O blindness of Mind, which caused us to commit Wickedness only by Imitation, and to please others, when they said, Come, let us do some bad Action, and I was asham'd not to be Impudent.

And in fine, A considerable Example what bad Company can do. Theotime, that you may clearly see the height of Disorder to which evil Company may bring young Men, hearken to what the same Saint reports of himself, deploring the miserable State to which he was reduc'd by that Means.

Praeceps i­bam tanta cae­citate ut inter coaetaneos meos puderet me minoris dedecoris, cum audiebam eos jactantes fla­gitia sua & tanta glorian­tes quanto magis turpes essent, Et li­bebat facere non solum li­bidine facli, verum etiam laudis. Quid dignum est vitu peratione nisi vitium? Ego ne vitu­perarer, viti­osior fiebam. Et ubi non suberat quo admisso ae­quarer perditis, fingebam me fecisse quod non feceram, ne viderer abjectior quo eram innocentior, & ne vilior haberer quo eram castior. Ecce cum quibus comitibus iter agebam platearum Ba­biloniae, & volutabar in coeno ejus tanquam in cinnamomis & unguentis preciosis. Lib. 2. Confes. cap. 3. I went, says he, headlong into Vice with such a Blindness, that amongst those of my Age I blush'd not to be as wicked as they, when I heard them glory in their Sins, and brag by so much more, as they were more impious. And I had a mind to commit Evil not only for the Pleasure of the Action, but out of a desire to be Prais'd. What is there in the World [Page 206]but Vice which deserves to be blam'd? and I was so deprav'd, that I sought to be more vi­cious, lest I should be blam'd: And when I could not equal the most impious of my Compa­nions in Wickedness, I feigned Sins which I never did, lest I should be accounted more con­temptible, as I was more innocent, and lest I should be esteem'd less infamous, as I appear'd more chast. See with what sort of Compa­nions I conversed, when I travail'd in the mis­fortunate Path of Babylon, that is, in the wicked Life of my Youth, in the stinking Dirt wherein I wallow'd, as if I had roll'd my self in precious Odors, and sweet Perfumes.

This was the deplorable State to which wicked Company had brought S. Augustin in his Youth; a State out of which he could not be drawn but with wonderful Diffi­culties, and by a particular Miracle of Divine Grace, as we have shewn above. Part 1. Chap. 12.

Of Four sorts of wicked Companions which must be avoided.

First,Libertines. Theotime, abhor the Company of those who make open profession of Vice, as impious Persons and Libertines; and [Page 207]of all those who seek not to conceal the greatest Vices, as Impurity, Swearing, Drunkenness, but glory in them.Qui laetantur cum male fe­cerint & ex­ultant in re­bus pessimis. Prov. 2. They who rejoyce, says the Wiseman, at their wicked Actions, who take pleasure in their greatest Sins, who scoff at Vertue, and who endeavor to corrupt you, and allure you to them.

2.Lewd Diseour­ses. Fly as from the Plague those who scoff at Vertue, who solicit you to Sin, or who entertain you with lewd Discourses contrary to Vertue, altho' they appear not openly vicious in their Persons. Wick­ed Discourses are always prejudicial, from which side soever they come; they con­stantly produce the same Effect, which is to introduce Sin into the Soul of him who wilfully gives ear.

3.Dissemblers. Avoid the Company of some who Dissemble more, and yet are no less dan­gerous, who will not solicit you openly to Sin, but divert you from the Exercise of Vertue, as from Prayer, from frequenting the Sacraments, from reading good Books; who tell you those things are neither con­venient nor necessary for you; that they are not proper for you at this time, that you have something else to do; and in­stead of these entertain you only with vain Discourses of Pleasures and Pastimes, of the Hopes of the World, of Vanities and Grandeurs. These Conversations, Theo­time, are very hurtful, altho' they seem not so; for they attack Vertue in the Root, and secretly destroy it.

Fly the Company of idle and lewd young People,Idle young Per­sons. who have no Employment, or comply very ill with that wherein they are engag'd. Their Example will bring you to Slothfulness, they will induce you to it by their Discourses, they will per­suade you to leave your Employment and Labor, and pass your time in Merriment; They will teach you to love a Play, to haunt Tipling-houses, to frequent Balls and Comedies; And from this Idle Life they will cast you into Disorders. Observe well this Advice, and assure your self ab­solutely, that there are no Companions more dangerous for you than they.

For Conclusion, Theotime, remember one thing, That sooner or later the Divine Vengeance will surprise the Wicked, whe­ther visibly or invisibly.In synagoga peccantium exardebit ig­nis, & in gen­te incredibili exardescet ira. Eccl. 16.16. The Fire of the Divine Choler, says the Wiseman, will be en­kindled against the Assembly of the Impious, and against the Rebellious, who refuse to obey the Commandments. If you be found amongst them, you will be involv'd in their Ruin.Via peccan­tium compla­nata lapidi­bus, & in fine illorum inseri & tenebrae & poenae. Eccl. 21.10. The way of Sinners seems sweet and agree­able, but in the end they will find Death, Darkness, and Damnation. For this reason I say to you with the Prophet,Recedite à tabernaculis hominum im­piorum, ne in­volvamini in peccatis eo­rum, Num. 16.26. With­draw your self from them, lest you be involv'd in their Sins and Ruin. Wo be to him, who being forewarn'd, avoids not this Preci­pice and eternal Misfortune.

See a little below, Chap. 8. Art. 3. the History of a young Man, who being per­verted by wicked Company, dy'd in [Page 209]Despair, crying out, Wo be to him who hath seduc'd me.

There remain's here to speak of the Conversation with the Good; but we have plac'd that before amongst the Means to acquire Vertue, Part. 2. Chap. 18.

The Seventh Obstacle of the Salvation of Youth, Idleness.

THIS, Theotime, is one of the great­est Obstacles of your Salvation, and that which produceth, or nourisheth all the precedent and many others. Idleness brings Ignorance and want of Instruction, which cannot be gotten without Labor. It is that which breeds Untractableness; for a slothful Mind will learn nothing: The apprehension it hath of taking pains, makes it esteem it self sufficiently Know­ing, and refuse to receive the Instruction and Counsel of others.Sapientior sibi piger vi­detur septem viris loquen­tibus senten­tias. Prov. 26.16. The slothful, says the Scripture, accounts himself wiser than many, who Instruct others with their Documents. Idleness is the cause of In­constancy;Piger vult & non vult. Prov. 13.4. The slothful will, and will not: To day he desires one thing, to mor­row another; To day he will be Good, to morrow he changes his Resolution. Idle­ness causes a Shame to do well, and takes away the Courage he ought to have in the [Page 210]pursuit of Vertue.Pigrum de­jicit timor. Prov. 18.9. Fear makes the sloth­ful lose courage. Idleness makes him seek, and find wicked Company, and danger­ous Recreations. Idleness ordinarily is the Mother of that misfortunate Sin, which so deplorably destroys a great part of Youth, the Sin of Impurity, of which we shall speak in the following Chapter.

In a word, There are no Sins, no Dis­orders, no Occasions of Destruction, whereof Idleness is not the cause, and brings with it. This is the reason which made S. Bernard justly call it,Omnium cogitationum malarum, & tentationum, & inutilium sentina, mater nugarum, no­verca virtu­tum, mors a­nimae, vivi ho­minis sepul­tura, sentina omnium ma­lorum. The Sink of all Temptations, and wicked Thoughts, the Mother of Follies, and Stepmother of Vertues, the Death of the Soul, the Sepulchre of a li­ving Man, the Receptacle of all Evil: And the Holy Ghost himself names it, The Mistress which teacheth many Sins; Multam malitiam docuit otiositas.

Alas, Theotime, is it not a very deplora­ble thing,How common amongst young Persons. to see the Sin which is the Foun­tain of so many Evils, to be so common a­mongst Youth, that it seems to become natural to them! You see the greatest part live after an idle and negligent man­ner, flying from Labor like Death it self, not applying themselves to any constant Exercise; or if they undertake any, they presently abandon it, or at best acquit themselves very ill of it. They have no affection nor thought but for Pleasures and Divertisements. Playing, Walking, Good-chear, Sleeping, are the most consi­derable Employments of their Life, and [Page 211]the most serious Occupations of their Minds.

And from thence spring all the Disor­ders into which we daily see them fall,How pernici­ous. the unbridled Affection to the Pleasures of this Life, the Disrelishing of Vertue, the Ignorance of the most necessary things, the Forgetfulness of God and Eternal Salva­tion. From thence wicked Companions, and the Occasions of Debauches; From thence all Vices and all bad Inclinations, which encrease in their Souls more abun­dantly than ill Weeds in a fertil Earth, which the Gardners Hand neglects to cul­tivate; And from thence, in fine, it ari­seth, that they become unuseful for any Good, which by their Labor they might have made themselves capable of, and that the Vices contracted by the Idleness of their Youth, renders them wicked and un­profitable all the remainder of their Life.

I would to God it were as easie to root out Vice from the Souls of young People, as it is facil to make appear the deplora­ble Effects and vicious Consequences of it. But this Evil hath in such a manner taken possession of their Hearts, that they will not so much as know it, or knowing will not cure it.Usque quo piger dormi­es, quando consurges à somno tuo? paululum dor­mitabis, pau­lulum conse­res manus ut dormias, & veniet tibi quasi viator egestas, & pauperies si­cut vir arma­tus. Prov. 6. O slothful, says the Wise­man, how long will you sleep? when will you awake from that profound Sleep of Idleness, which hath made you so drowsie? and which will bring you to a poverty of all good, which will surprise you suddenly, and seize up­on you like an armed man. Open your Heart, [Page 212]dear Theotime, to the Voice of this Divine Spirit, to banish Idleness from thence, or hinder it from ever coming there. For this end fortifie your Mind against this Vice by the following Reflections,The Remedy. which I beseech you to read often and atten­tively.

1.All Men are oblig'd to La­bor. In sudore vul­tus tui vesce­ris panem. Gen. 5. Homo ad la­borem natus, si laborem resugit, non sacit id ad quod natus est, quid respondebit ei qui mittit illum, qui instituit ut laboret? S. Bern. in Declam. Consider that all Men are born for Labor, God hath oblig'd them thereto by a solemn Sentence which he pronounc'd at the beginning of the World. If then you would be exempt, leading an Idle Life, you resist the Will of God, and break the Order he hath so solemnly Establish'd.

2. If Men be oblig'd to Labor all their Life-time, they have yet a stricter Obli­gation to it during their Youth; because if that Age be not Exercis'd in vertuous Un­dertakings, it heaps up many Vices and wicked Habits, which continue all the rest of their Life.

3.Chiefly young Men. Because Youth is the proper time to cultivate the Mind, and form it for Good, and wherein only they may make them­selves capable of an Employment where they may busie all the succeeding time of their Life. If this Time be once lost, it can never be repair'd. Time lost in any Age, never returns; but there is this dif­ference, that Time lost in other Ages may sometimes be recover'd, but Time lost in Youth is irreparable.

4.The Sorrow for loss of Time in Youth. Consider attentively the Grief you will one day have for losing the Time of your Youth, when you shall find your self unfit for pious Employments, and unca­pable of any Good, as it happens to many: You believe it not at present, but one day you will be sensible of it, when it is too late.

5.The Account that must be given. If this Grief at present move you not, the exact Account you shall give to God of the ill-spent Time of your Youth, will at his Judgment make you tremble. In that dreadful Judgment all your Life shall be set before your Eyes in order, one Part after another; and the first Article of the Account which shall be Examin'd, will be that of the Employment you have fol­low'd in your Youth: What will you an­swer to this Demand? There you will distinctly discover all the Disorders which have sprung from that first Fault; the Ignorances it hath caus'd in you, the Sins it hath made you commit, the Vices where­in you have been involv'd, all the Goods you have been render'd incapable of: What have you to answer to all these things?

6.Many damned for the ill spend­ing of their Touth. How many others are there now in Hell, who acknowledg the origin of their Damnation to arise from the ill spending the Time of their Youth? If they could but hope for one sole Moment of Time, which you have now in your power, O God, what would they not do to obtain it; and bestow it profitably? Is it possible [Page 214]that their Misery doth not move you, and that you will not grow wise at other Mens Expence, learning by their Example, to avoid that irreparable Misfortune into which they are faln by their Idleness?

O dear Child, for the love you ought to have for your Salvation, fly absolutely this Vice, I beseech you, which is one of the greatest Impediments you could put; And that you may remember to avoid it, remember to perform two things. The First is,Two Practices against Idleness. To apply your self to some mo­dest Exercise, which may keep you busi'd for the Time of your Youth; and that you may perform it as you ought, see what we have spoken of it above in Part 2. Chap. 12. The Second is, That you take care as much as you can, never to be Idle any more, without doing something; use constantly some Action, whether of Labor wherein you are engag'd, or Reading, or Divertisement. Let your Recreations be accompany'd with Actions either of Body or Mind. The Devil seeks no better op­portunity than to find you Idle, that he may tempt and suprise you. For this rea­son practise diligently that excellent Pre­cept of S. Jerom, Facito ali­quid operis ut te semper dia­bolus inveniat occupatum, Hieron. Epist. ad Rust. Be doing always some­thing, that the Devil may always find you employ'd.

The Eighth Obstacle, Impurity.

WE are now come to the greatest, most powerful, and most univer­sal of all the Obstacles of the Salvation of Youth, viz. the Sin of Impurity. At the Entrance whereof I cannot refrain from uttering that Expression of the Prophet Jeremy, Quis dabit capiti meo aquam, & ocu­lis meis fon­tem lachry­marum? & plorabo die & nocte inter­fectos filiae po­puli mei. Jerem. 5. O that my Head were full of Water, and my Eyes had a Fountain of Tears, that I might weep Day and Night for the Desolation of my People. For who can attentively consider the infinit number of young People which this Sin keeps mi­serably enslav'd, the havock it makes of their Souls, the innumerable Offences it causes them to commit, the Disorders it brings to them, the Misfortunes into which it daily precipitates them, and chiefly the height of Misery, viz. the ruin of their Soul, and Eternal Damnation: Who can consider these things, I say, without ha­ving his Heart pierc'd with Sorrow, and without being mov'd with Compassion, to advertise them of the Danger, and afford them Assistance to withdraw them from the Misfortune into which they blindly run. For this reason, Theotime, I beseech you six here your Thoughts, and read at­tentively some Points of which I am to Discourse with you concerning this Sin, that I may raise in your Mind the horror [Page 216]and apprehension you ought to have of it, as of the greatest Enemy of your Salvati­on, and of the certain cause of your De­struction.

That the Sin of Impurity is the greatest Ene­my of Youth, and Damns more than all other Vices together.

I would to God this Proposition were rather, a Dream than a Truth, and that there were as much reason to question the certainty, as to hold it for infallible: But it is made too clear and visible by daily Ex­perience, which evidently discovers two things. 1. That a great part of Youth is addicted to this miserable Sin. 2. That amongst those who are inclin'd to it, there are many who are no less subject to other Sins than that.

First,Youth much gi­ven to the Sins of Impurity. Is it not a most deplorable thing, to see the innocentest Age of Life so cor­rupted by that infamous Sin, and the most flourishing Portion of Gods Church dis­honor'd in such a manner by that detesta­ble Vice? They are no sooner capable of Reason, but this Vice attacks and gains upon them; it creeps into their Mind, it possesses their Desires, it seises on their Thoughts, it inflames their Hearts with a love of dishonest Pleasures, which daily encreasing with Age, becomes so strong, that it is almost impossible to extinguish it.

This arises partly from the Corruption of Nature,Three Causes of Impurity. Sensus & cogi­tatio humani cordis in ma­lum prona sunt ab ado­lescentia sua. Gen. 8.3. which as the Sacred Scripture takes notice, is inclin'd to Evil from its Youth; partly from the Temper and Con­stitution of that Age, which the tenderness of the Body, and heat of Blood, makes more susceptible of the Impression of Sen­sual Pleasures; and partly also from the malice of the Devil, which assaults Man in his Youth on the weakest side, making use of the frailty of the Flesh, to take pos­session of the Spirit; and, asAdversum juvenes & pu­ellas aetates ardore ho­stis noster ah­utitur, & in flammat ro­tam nativita­tis nostrae. Haec sunt igni­ta diaboli ja­cula, quae si­mul & vulne­rant, & in­flammant, & à Rege Ba­bilonio tribus pueris praeparantur. S. Hieron. Epist. ad Demetriad. S. Jerom ju­diciously observes, takes advantage of the Heat of Youth, by which he raises in their Heart the Fire of unchast Love, enkindling in them a more burning and cruel Furnace than that which the King of Babylon caus'd to be prepar'd for the three innocent Chil­dren of Israel, because that could but con­sume their Bodies, but this scorches their Souls, and prepares them by that impure Flame for another Fire which shall never be consum'd.

O Theotime, they who attentively con­sider the Corruption of Manners which is found in Youth, can never be sufficiently sorry for them. But that which deserves most to be lamented, is, that it frequently falls out, that there is nothing but this Sin which is the cause of it, it being certain that there are many who are not subject to any other considerable Vices; or if they be, they are the Effects of this; and [Page 218]if they were freed from this, they would lead a perfectly pure and innocent Life: Whereas on the contrary,Haec adversus adolescentiam prima sunt ar­ma daemo­num; non sic avaritia qua­tit, inflat su­perbia, dele­ctat ambitio. S. Jer. Epist. ad Eustechium. permitting themselves to be overcome by this unclean Passion, they live a Life full of Iniquities, and heaping up daily new Sins, and per­verse Habits, cast themselves into so de­plorable a State, that they are often out of hopes of Amendment and Salvation. O misfortunate Sin, must thou thus destroy Men when they begin to work for their Salvation? must thou forcibly take away from God so many beauteous Souls, which without thee would live in innocence, to sacrifice them to Pleasures, and by Plea­sures to the Devil and everlasting Flames? Cursed Incontinence! who is there that can hate thee as thou deservest? To ap­prehend it more clearly, Theotime, read attentively that which follows, and judge of the Cause by its Effects.

Of the sad Effects of the Sin of Impurity

The Author of the Book De bono pudi­citiae, attributed to St. Cyprian, describes briefly a great number of the misfortunate Effects of this Sin: For he says, thatImpudicitia semper est de­testanda, ob­scoenum ludi­brium red­dens ministris suis, nec cor­poribus par­cens, nec ani­mis debellatis propriis mo­ribus, totum hominem su­um sub trium­phum libidi­nis mittit, blanda prius ut plus noceat, dum placet. Ea hauriens rem cum pudore, cupiditatum infesta tabies, incendium conscientiae bonae, mater impoenitentiae, ruina melioris aetatis. Auth. de bon. Pud. Im­modesty is a detestable Passion, which spares neither Souls nor Bodies, which renders Men absolutely Slaves of dishonest Love, flattering them at the beginning, that it might more ef­fectually destroy them. When it hath gotten [Page 219]possession of their Hearts, it drains their Goods together with their Shamefac'dness; It excites Passions even to excess, it destroys a good Conscience, it is the Mother of Impenitence, the loss and ruin of the best part of Age, that is, of Youth.

Omitting the Damage that Sin causes to the Body, Honor and Possessions, I shall insist only upon the dreadful Effects it produces in the Soul, which I reduce to Five or Six.

The First is,First Effect, the destruction of the Fear of God. the destruction of the Fear of God, which it works in the Soul, and the ruin of all good Inclinations. Expe­rience shews this Effect so common, that we need not seek any other Proof; we see many young People well Educated, who have very good Inclinations in their Youth, an aversion from Evil, a great affection to Piety, the Fear of God strongly imprinted in their Souls: Now all these good Quali­ties remain, if the Sin of Impurity doth not take possession of their Heart; but when that hath once enter'd into their Mind, it entirely subverts them. It creeps in first by immodest Thoughts, the Thoughts produce the desire of wanton Pleasures, the Desire moves to unchast Actions, these Sins repeated and multi­ply'd, ruin all the good Inclinations; things now appear far otherwise than before, the [Page 220]Sin now seems no more so great, it be­comes more familiar to them; and such an one who before had a great apprehension of one sole mortal Sin, when he is once overcome by this brutish Passion, is not dis­may'd to commit them by hundreds and thousands. O God, what a Change, what a subversion is this of a Conscience!

The Second Effect of this Sin,Second Effect. A Disrelish of Vertue. is a Dis­relishing, and even an Aversion to Vertue, and to all pious and wholsom Things. It is not to be conceiv'd how those who are infected with this Vice, have an aversion to Divine Things and Salvation. Prayer is tedious to them, and Sacraments contem­ptible, the Word of God moves them not, reading of pious Books is insupportable. This is too manifest by Experience, and no wonder, Theotime, he who is Distem­per'd with a Fever, takes no delight in the most delicious Meats; on the contrary, they seem to him bitter, because his Tast is deprav'd with some bitter Quality. Thus he who is once seis'd by this burning Fever of Impurity, finds a wonderful loath­ing and dislike of all the most pious and wholsome Things, by reason he hath his Heart infected with carnal and impure Affections; which permit him not to re­lish the sweetness of holy Things.Animalis homo non per­cipit ea quae Dei sunt. The natural man, says S. Paul, that is, who fol­lows the Motions of the Animal or Sensi­ble part, tasts not the things which are of God. AndQui secun­dum carnem sunt quae car­nis sunt sapi­unt. Rom. 5. those who live according to flesh, relish only the things of the flesh.

The Third Effect is a Blindness of Mind which this Sin produces in the Soul,Third Effect, Blindness of Mind. which hinders her from discerning Good from Bad, and judging of things as she ought. It is impossible that a Mind once possess'd by that Passion, should not have its Judg­ment perverted, and should not determin of things of Salvation quite contrary to Truth: The Tie and Inclination it hath to that Sin, makes it not account it so great an Evil (for we ordinarily judg accord­ing to our Inclinations) and that it can withdraw it self when it pleases; it hin­ders it from seeing the wicked Consequen­ces and Misfortunes this Vice brings after it. It takes away the remembrance of the Divine Judgments, and frequently endea­deavors to take God himself out of their Minds, that they may Sin more freely, as it is observ'd of those infamous old Men, who attempted to corrupt the Chastity of modest Susanna. Exarserunt concupiscenti­am ejus & e­verterunt sen­sum suum, & declinaverunt oculos suos ut non viderent coelum neque recordarentur judiciorum justorum. Dan. 3. They being inflam'd with Concupiscence, says the Sacred Scri­pture, lost their Sense and Judgment, and cast down their Eyes, that they might not look towards Heaven, and remember the just Judgments of God. This is the proper and peculiar Effect of Immodesty; it blinds the Mind, and makes it hoodwink it self, flifling in it self all good Thoughts, that it might sin with a greater liberty, and with less remorse of Conscience.

See the Account St. Augustin gives of himself concerning this Subject, in his Second Book of Confessions, Chap. 2. [Page 222]which I have cited Part 1. Chap. 13. Artic. 2.

From this Blindness of Mind springs Pride,Fourth Effect, Pride. the Fourth Effect of this Sin of Im­purity, which hindering the Mind from knowing its own Good, makes it despise all Admonitions, resist all Documents, and scoff at the most wholsom Counsels.Cereus in vi­tium flecti, monitoribus asper. So that as this Sin renders young Spirits soft and pliable to Vice, it makes them inflexi­ble, and obdurate to the Advertisements of their Salvation. The Wiseman teaches you this Truth, which Experience also makes sufficiently appear.Verbum sa­piens quod­cunque audie­rit scius lau­dabit, & ad se adjiciet, audi­vit luxuriosus & dispiciet illi & projiciet illud post dor­sum suum. Eocl. 2.18. A wise Man, says he, when he hears wise Sayings and In­structions, receives them with esteem, and ad­vantages himself by them; the lascivious hath no sooner heard them, but he is disgusted and rejects them with contempt. We need no other Example of this Truth, than that of S. Augustin in the Second Book of his Con­fessions, Chap. 3. where he deplores the insupportable Pride with which he con­temn'd the discreet Admonitions of his pious Mother, to whom next to God he was oblig'd for the Favor of his Salva­tion.

The Fifth Effect is an Obdurateness of the Will in Wickedness.Fifth Effect, Obdurateness in Evil. According to the measure that Sin multiplies, the Soul habituates her self, and becomes obdurate, so that nothing is able to soften her. It would be an incredible thing, if we did not daily see it most apparently, how those who are possess'd with this Sin, become [Page 223]stupid and obdurate. They are found insensible of all good Motions, deaf to all Inspirations of Grace; the Menaces of Divine Justice and Chastisements seem to them but Dreams; witness the two Sons-in-law of Lot, Surgite, egre­diamini de lo­co isto, quia delebit Domi­nus civitatem hanc, & visus est eis quasi ludens loqui. Gen. 19. who lookt upon that Ad­monition he gave them to depart from the City of Sodom, as a Fiction, which the Night following should be destroy'd, as in effect it was, and they together with it. The Examples of those whom God hath so rigorously punish'd for this Sin, touch them not at all; the Misfortunes which they see with their own Eyes to befall o­thers like themselves, make no Impressions upon their Minds; nothing is capable to move them, as soon as this brutish Passion most dreadfully takes possession.Obsurduerant stridore ca­tenae mortali­tatis meae poe­na superbiae animae meae. Lib. 2. Conf. cap. 2. Alas (saith St. Augustin,) the Chain of violent Passions wherewith this mortal Flesh kept me captive, made such a noise about me, that I was deaf to all that might advertise me for my good. And this Deafness was a Punish­ment of the Pride of my Heart, contracted by the Disorders of my Life. O what a de­plorable State is that to which a Soul is reduc'd by Impurity.

After all these dreadful Effects of the Sin of Immodesty, there remains one,Sixth Effect, Final Impeni­tency. which is the accomplishment of all the former, and the Mark at which they all aim, viz. Final Impenitency, or Death in mortal Sin; which is the greatest and utmost of all Misfortunes. It is, O Theo­time, a most common, and most ordinary [Page 224]Effect of this detestable Sin, which inces­santly fills Hell with a vast number of wretched Souls, which by untimely Deaths it casts into that endless Pit: Some dying surpris'd with Sickness, which deprives them of the Time or Means to do Penance; Others seis'd by some frightful Accident; Others departing in Obdurateness, aban­don'd by God in punishment of their Sins. Give ear to what the Scripture speaks of those, and in the Name of God imprint deeply in your Heart those astonishing Words of St. Peter, 5. Pet. 2. Novit Deus pios de tentatione eripere; iniquos verò igni reser­vare cruciandos. God, says that great A­postle, knows how to deliver the Good from temptation, and reserve the Wicked for the torments of Fire, which his Justice hath pre­par'd for them. Hearken to what fol­lows, Mugis autem eos qui post carnem in concupiscentia immunditiae ambulant. Now for whom amongst the Wicked doth he principally reserve these Chastisements? For those chiefly who walk after the Flesh in the Concupiscence of immodest Pleasures. But what will befall them? Hearken, Theotime; Hi velut irationabilia pecora in corruptione sua peribunt, percipientes mercedem injustitiae. They shall die like brute Beasts in their Corruption, and perish in their Impurity, receiving thus the Recompence they have deserv'd for their Sins. O dear Theotime, is it possible that this Oracle pronounc'd by the Holy Ghost himself against Immo­desty, causes not an horror of that dete­stable [Page 225]Sin? Read it attentively, and pre­serve it in your Memory; and that it may be more strongly setled in your Mind, add to it the following Examples.

Examples of the miserable Death of those who were addicted to the Sin of Impurity.

The Sacred Scripture can furnish us with a great number of them; we have already mention'd some in Part 1. Chap. 6. See what we have there recounted of the two Sons of the Patriarch Juda, Her and Onan. who were punish'd by God with sudden Death for the Sins they committed by detestable A­ctions of Impurity.

The unfortunate Death of the two Sons of the High Priest Heli, Ophni and Phi. naees. and all the other Misfortunes which God sent to that Fa­mily, were not only Punishments of the Irreverences and Injustices they had com­mitted in the Temple, but also of their Immodesty, as it is observ'd in the First Book of Kings, Chap. 2. Vers. 22.

Amnon the Son of David, Amnon. found the Chastisement of his unchast Pleasures, in the dreadful Death he receiv'd from the treacherous Hands of his own Brother Absolon.

The Rebellion of Absolon against his Father,Absolon. was not the sole cause which made God lay his revenging Hand upon him; the Uncleannesses he had commit­ted, [Page 226]whereof it is spoken in the Second Book of Kings, Chap. 16. with all his o­ther Crimes, did contribute thereunto.

What shall we say of Salomon, Salomon. Theotime, who being the wisest of all Men, singularly belov'd of God, and favor'd by him with all desirable Graces, permitting himself to be misfortunately carry'd away with un­chast Love, fell from that Sin to the basest of all Crimes, that is, Idolatry; wherein he continu'd such a long time, that it is not known whether he was ever rais'd from it, and hath left all the World in doubt of his Salvation? O dreadful Exam­ple! O frightful Effect of the Sin of Un­cleanness!

If this Sin were so frightful in Particu­lars,Omnis caro corruperit viam suam. Gen. 6. it hath no less spar'd Multitudes, nor even the whole World.

That dreadful Deluge which drown'd the whole Earth two thousand Years af­ter its Creation, was the first Effect of Impurity, which had caus'd so prodigi­ous a Corruption in all Human Nature, that it provok'd the Divine Choler,Tactus dolore cordis intrin­secus, delebo inquit, homi­nem, quem creavi, à facie terrae. even to destroy by an universal Flood, that same Nature, the most excellent Workmanship of his Hands; to extinguish in those Wa­ters, the Flames of that unchast Love, which had caus'd such an universal Con­slagration.

The Waters of the Deluge were scarce dry'd up,Clamor So­domaeorum & Gomorraeo­rum multi­plicatus est & peccatum eorum aggra­vatum est ni­mis. Gen. 19. Igitur pluit Dominus su­per Sodomam & Gomorram sulphur & ig­nem, à Domi­no de coelo, sed & subver­tit civitates has, & omnem circa regio­nem universos habitatores urbium, & cuncta terrae viventia. Gen. 19. Quibus in testimonium nequitiae samigabunda constat deserta terra. Sap. 19. when this detestable Sin begin­ning again to enkindle its first Flames, ob­lig'd the Divine Justice to send another [Page 227]frightful Punishment upon those infamous Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah; whose Im­pudence being arriv'd at the greatest height, and crying to Heaven for Ven­geance, God showres down Fire and Brim­stone visibly from Heaven, which reduc'd into Ashes, not only the Men and Cities, but also all the neighboring Land, which is yet to this day an infectious unwholsom Marsh, to which Man dares not approach, that it might serve as an Example to Po­sterity, and teach the Immodest, that the dishonest Fire with which they permit themselves to be inflam'd, shall be punish'd with another Fire, which shall burn always and never be consum'd.

To these Examples, which are taken out of the Sacred Scripture, and by conse­quence most certain, I might add many others with which Histories abundantly furnish us. I shall content my self with two, which I have chosen out amongst o­thers.

The First is recounted by St. Gregory in his Dialogues. He saith,S. Greg. lib. 4. Dial. cap. 35. there was one in his time, nam'd Chrysorius, a Man of Qua­lity, and very rich; but as much abound­ing with Vices as he was wealthy in Riches; but above all extreamly addicted to im­modest Pleasures: God resolving to put a period to those Sins he daily heap'd up one after another, sends him a severe Sick­ness, [Page 228]of which he died, but with a Death very extraordinary. Approaching to the greatest extremity of his Distemper, he suddenly perceiv'd a multitude of malig­nant Spirits, who presented themselves un­to him in hideous Forms, and made a shew as if they would immediately carry him into Hell. He began to tremble, look agast, and lamentably cry out for succour; he turns himself on every side to avoid the sight of those horrid Shapes, but which way soever he mov'd, they were continu­ally before his Eyes. After many strug­lings, feeling himself press'd, and violent hands laid on him by those wicked Spirits, he began horribly to cry out, Truce till Morning, Truce till Morning; and shriek­ing thus, his Soul was torn from his Body, and he miserably departed without ob­taining the Truce he requir'd. O Inconti­nence, the Mother of Impenitence!

If this Example be terrible, that which follows is yet more frightful, and ought to move you more powerfully. It is re­lated by John Gerson Chancellor of Paris, who took it out of Thomas Cantipratensis Suffragan Bishop of Cambray, who says he was an Eye-witness of it.

He says, That being a young Scholar, he had a Companion of his Studies, with whom he had contracted a very strict Friendship, a Person of Quality, and en­dow'd with all the Vertues one could wish in a young Man. Happy if he had con­serv'd that Treasure of Innocence! But it [Page 229]chanc'd by a Misfortune, too frequent to young Persons, that he fell into wicked Company, which kindled in his Heart the Fire of unchast Love: This in a short time consum'd all his good Inclinations, and cast him into the incredible Disorder of a Life full of Sins and Corruptions. His Irregularities were visible to all the World, and continues in this deprav'd Custom, notwithstanding the Admoniti­ons of his Friends: And this Author says, that he himself frequently exhorted him to return to the Way from which he had departed. As he contemn'd all Advertise­ments, God was resolv'd in his Person to shew an Example to young People, who permit themselves to be blindly carry'd to this miserable Sin, by a dreadful Acci­dent which I shall recount to you. Being once asleep at Midnight, he was seis'd with a terrible Fright; wherein being a­wak'd, he began to cry out with a dread­ful clamour: All the House rises, and every one comes to his assistance. They ask him where his Sickness held him, but could get no other Answer from him than hideous Outcries. They cause the Priest to be sent for, who exhorted him to think upon God, and beg pardon of him for his Sins, but in vain. The Priest continuing to exhort him with many moving Expres­sions and Tears, he turns towards him, and looking upon him with ghastly Eyes, spake thus to him in a lamentable Voice; Wo be to him that seduced me, Wo be to him [Page 230]that seduced me. It is in vain to invoke the Grace of God, I see Hell open ready to re­ceive me.

After these Words, which redoubled the Lamentations of all those who were pre­sent, every one entreating him to recom­mend himself to God, he turns to the other side, and continuing his Clamors, mise­rably and in Despair he died.

Ought not this Example, Theotime, to make all those tremble, who are addicted to the Sin of Incontinency, and principally young Persons, to whom it doth particu­larly appertain? to teach them how they ought to fly this abominable Sin, and with what care they ought to preserve them­selves from the Company of those misfor­tunate Spirits, who corrupt the Vertue of others.

Remedies against Impurity; And first, that this Sin must be resisted at the beginning.

After I have discover'd the Malice of this Sin, I must shew the Remedies, and afford you Means by which you may preserve your self from the Enemy of your Salva­tion.

The First which I shall prescribe,First Remedy. is to resist it betimes, and in its first assaults, before it hath gotten possession, and ren­der'd it self Master of your Heart.

This,The necessity of this Remedy. Theotime, is the great Remedy a­gainst this Sin, and principally in Youth, wherein it is so necessary, that for want [Page 231]of practising it, the greatest part of young Men are misfortunately engag'd in this Vice, and oftentimes so deeply, that they are never able to free themselve, or with very great trouble. It is the chief Maxim for all Distempers, whether of Body or Soul, to apply their Remedies in the be­ginning.

Principiis obsta, sero medicina paratur,
Cum mala per longas invaluere moras.
The Motions unto Ill at first withstand,
The Cure's too late, when Vice has got Command.

Now if the practice of this Maxim be necessary in all, both Corporal and Spiri­tual Distempers, it is particularly in this Sin of Impurity, which is easily increas'd, and makes a wonderful progress in a small time.

For this reason the Fathers have re­commended it with much care; hearken, Theotime, to what they shall deliver to you.

St. Cyprian says,Diaboli pri­mis titillatio­nibus obvian­dum; nec fo­veri debet co­luber donec in draconem for­metur. Cypr. de jejunio. Diabolus Ser­pens est lu­bricus, cujus capiti, hoc est, primae sugge­stioni, si non resistitur, to­tus in interna cordis, dum non sentitur, illabitur. S. Hier. in c. 9. Eccles. Quid est libi­do, nisi ignis? Quid virtu­tes, nisi flo­res? Quid item turpes cogitationes, nisi paleae? Quis autem nesciat, si in paleis ignis negligenter extinguitur, ex parva scintilla omnes paleae accenduntur? Qui ergo virtutum flores in mente non vult exurere; ita debet libidinis ignem extinguere, ut per tenu­em scintillam nunquam possit ardere. S. Greg. in c. 25. 1 Reg. l. 6. That we must resist the first Temptations of the Devil; and to do otherwise is to cherish an Adder, which will grow up into a Serpent, able to devour him who harbour'd it.

S. Jerom says, That the Devil is a creep­ing Serpent; and as to keep a Serpent from entring into a Hole, we hinder it from putting in its Head, which being once [Page 232]enter'd, it cannot be stopt from introdu­cing its whole Body. So to hinder the Devil from having admittance into our Soul by Sin, we must resist the first Tem­ptations; which if not withstood, he in­sensibly creeps into the Heart, and makes himself Master of it.

St. Gregory says, That Impurity is en­kindled in the Soul, like Fire in Straw; and as if one doth not quickly and entirely extinguish the Fire, it burns all that it en­counters; so if the Flame of Incontinence be not carefully put out, it causes a Fire in the Soul, which is often without re­medy.

But give ear,In initio cogi­tationis ini­quae. repelle, & fugiet à te; cogitatio pra­va delectatio­nem parit, de­lectatio con­sensum, con­sensus actio­nem, actio consuetudi­nem, consue­tudo necessi­tatem, neces­sitas mortem. Sicut vipera à filiis suis in utero positis lacerata perimitur, ita nos cogitationes nostrae intra nos nutritrae occi­dunt. S. Bern. lib. de interi. Dom. cap. 39. Theotime, to the excellent Counsel of St. Bernard, with the reason he there adds. Reject evil Thoughts at the be­ginning, and they will fly from you. Lasci­vious Thoughts which are not resisted, cause Delight, Delight draws on Consent, Consent produces the Action, from the Action springs a Habit, from a Habit Necessity, and from Necessity Death. And as the Viper is kill'd by the little ones she carries in her Womb; so we receive Death by our vicious Thoughts, when we nourish them in our Hearts.

The Reason of this Maxim, so much recommended by the Saints, is, that it is easiest to resist the Sin of Impurity at the beginning, and very hard to surmount it when it is become inveterate and strength­ned by a long Habit.

To comprehend better the greatness of this Difficulty, see what we have said in the First Part, of the trouble one is to un­dergo for his Salvation, when he hath liv'd ill in his Youth; for all that we have said above, and the Examples we have brought, are particularly to be understood of the Sin of Incontinence.

That we must avoid the Causes of Impurity.

The Second Means against the Sin of Immodesty is to avoid carefully the Cau­ses and Occasions of it.Second Remedy. A Means abso­lutely necessary, it being certain, that to hinder the Effect we must take away the Cause; and he who puts himself in the Occasion of Evil, cannot avoid falling into it; because, according to the Maxim,Qui amat pe­riculum peri­bat in illo. He who loveth Danger, shall perish therein.

The first Cause we must fly is Idleness,First Cause to be avoided, Idleness. which is the Mother of all Vices, as we have said, but principally of this. It is that which opens the door to evil Thoughts,Omnium co­gitationum malarum & tentationum sentina. and immodest Desires, which increase ex­treamly in an idle Mind, and make it com­mit a vast number of Sins. It is the Sink [Page 234]and Receptacle of impure Temptations, according to St. Bernard. Impurity, says he,Luxuria cito deripit homi­nes otio de­ditos, gravi­us urit quem otiosum inve­nit. S. Bern. Serm. ad Frat. de Mon. Dei. hath never a greater advantage to sur­prise Men than in Idleness; it burns more violently those it finds lull'd asleep in Vice. This Verity is so common, that the Pa­gans themselves have taught it us.

Otia si tollas, periere Cupidinis arcus,
Contemptaeque jacent, & sine luce faces.
Quaeritur Aegyptus quare sit factus adulter?
In promptu causa est, desidiosus erat.
If Sloth be banisht, Cupid's Bow's unbent,
His Torch extinct, and all his Arrows spent.
Why did the Egyptian Adultery commit?
The Reason's clear, he first did Sloth ad­mit.

Have a care then, Theotime, to fly as much as you can, this great Cause of Impurity, never remaining Idle, but espe­cially when you are all alone. See what we have said of Idleness in the former Chapter, and of employment of Time in Part 2. Chap. 14.

The Second Cause of Impurity is In­temperance in Eating and Drinking,Second Cause. with which it is impossible to conserve Chastity in whatsoever Age it be, principally in Youth. The Heat of Blood which boils in that Age, excites them very much to Sensual Pleasures; but when it is assisted by exterior Causes, as Wine and good [Page 235]Cheer, it produces an incredible distur­bance. Hearken to what S. Jerom says, who speaks of it by his own Experience. In his Epistle to Furia he says,Non Aetnaei ignes, non Vul­cania tellus, non Vesuvius aut Olympus, tantis ardori­bus aestuant, ut juveniles medullae vino & dapibus in­flammatae. S. Jer. de Virg. Serv. That Mount Aetna, Mount Vesuvius, and Mount Olympus, which continually exhale Fire and Flames, did not burn with greater Heat, than the Marrow of young People, when they are in­flam'd with Wine and delicious Meats. And in his Epistle to Eustochium; Si quid in me potest esse consilii, si ex­perto credi­tur, hoc pri­mum moneo, hoc obtestor, ut Sponsa Christi vinum fugiat pro ve­neno, haec ad­versus adole­scentiam pri­ma sunt arma daemonum vi­num & adole­scentia duplex incendium voluptatis, quid oleum flammae adjicimus? quid ar­denti corpusculo somenta ignium ministramus? S. Jer. Epist. ad Eustoch. If I be ca­pable, says he, to give any Counsel, if you will give credit to one that is experienc'd, I chiefly admonish and beseech that Soul, which desires to be the Spouse of Jesus Christ by conserving her Purity, to fly from Wine as a mortal Poi­son. These are the first Arms the Devil makes use of against Youth. Wine and Youth are a double inflammation to Pleasure, Why do we cast Oyl upon the Fire? Why do we add more Fuel to a Body that is on Fire? Be­hold, Theotime, the Advice of this great Saint, so experienc'd in the Conduct of Souls, and chiefly of Youth. Apply all your Endeavors to practise it exactly, if you will conserve your Chastity; And to exercise it well, see in Part 4. Chap. 23. of Sobriety.

The Third Cause you ought carefully to avoid, is wicked Company,Third Cause. and all sort of dissolute Discourses, or any ways tend­ing to Immodesty. It is not to be imagin'd [Page 236]how those things corrupt and destroy Cha­stity in young People; for how many are there who never fell into this misfortunate Sin, till they had learn'd it, either by Con­versation with dissolute Persons, or by the occasion of immodest Discourses, which falling upon young Minds, as a Spark a­mongst Straw, frequently inflames them with the Fire of unchast Love. This Cause is so ordinary, and so pernicious to young People, that it cannot be sufficiently re­peated, nor ever enough decry'd. Fly wicked Company, have a care of immodest Discourses, or to say with the Apostle, per­mit not your self to be deceiv'd therewith; for Wicked Discourses corrupt good Manners. We have spoken of this Cause before in Chap. 6. See what is said there, and chief­ly the Example I brought above in Art. 3. of that young Man, who permitting him­self to be deprav'd with wicked Company, dy'd in Despair.

The Fourth Cause is familiar Conver­sation with Women,Fourth Cause, which is also ex­treamly dangerous. It is there, Theotime, where the Chastity of young Persons is ut­terly ruin'd and destroy'd; and frequent­ly after it had been preserv'd from other Dangers, it there chances to be deplorably Shipwreckt. Impure Love enters but too easily into young Minds; but when it is assisted by the presence of the Object, it is inslam'd beyond all imagination. For this reason the Wiseman gives us that impor­tant Admonition,In medio mulierum no­li commorari, de vestimen­tis enim pro­cedit tinea, & à muliere ini­quitas viri. Eccl. 42. Continue not amongst [Page 237]Women, because from their Conversation springs the loss and destruction of Men, as Moths which eat Cloaths are bred in the Garments.

Now if the Company of Women be ve­ry prejudicial to young People, it becomes pernicious to them, and absolutely mortal, when it passes to a Familiarity, to a Desire to please, and be belov'd, to overmuch Freedom, to Caresses and Demonstrations of Friendship, and such like Privacies, too common amongst young Persons, which S. Jerom calls very well, Principia moriturae virginitatis; The beginning of the approach­ing ruin of Chastity.

We must add to this Cause, either im­modest or too curious Looks, which may be perform'd either in, or out of Conver­sation. Love enters by the Eyes; and sometimes a Look, without any wicked Design, draws after it a vast train of Sins. Give ear to what the Holy Ghost teaches you by the Mouth of the Wiseman,Virginem ne aspicias, ne forte scanda­lizer is in de­cora illius. A­verte faciem tuam à muli­ere compta, & ne circum­spicias speci­em alienam. Propter spe­ciem mulieris multi perierunt, & ex hoc concupiscentia quasi ignis inardescit. Eccl. 9. Look not on a Virgin, lest you be scandaliz'd at her Beauty. Divert your Eyes from a Woman comelily Adorn'd, and regard not curiously her graceful Behaviour. Remember that Womens Beauty hath been fatal to many, and hath en­kindled unchast Flames in their Hearts. What an excellent Advertisement is this, Theotime! yet as much unknown, as it is important.

Engrave this deeply in your Memory, and have a care to govern well your Sight, so that it be not too dissolute for all man­ner of Looks; and if it happen to glance upon dangerous Objects, at least fix it not there, but withdraw it immediately. Ob­serve the same Rule in respect of all Pi­ctures, or immodest Figures, which are so many Rocks for Chastity to split on, and wherewith the World is misfortunately replenish'd.

Adjoyn also to the former Causes, Kisses, which amongst young Persons proceed of­ten from Sensuality and immodest Affe­ction, altho' it be sometimes conceal'd; or at least they excite it, and give a begin­ning to many Sins and Uncleannesses. For this reason a good Author calls them very properly,Impudici tactus osculi quid aliud est quam morsus diaboli & ar­rha peccati? Euseb. Emiss. Hom. de Quadr. The Bitings of the Devil, and an Earnest of Sin.

In fine, add also to these Causes, unchast Books, which you ought to fly as the Plague of the Soul, and the certain corru­ption of Chastity. See what we have said, Part 2. Chap. 17.

These are the most ordinary Causes of Immodesty, which you ought carefully to avoid, if you desire to be freed from their pernicious Effect. To fly them usefully, and as you ought, Theotime, take notice of those you have, and principally bear do­minion in you; and having observ'd them, avoid them the most you can. For Exam­ple, If it be Idleness, apply all your Care to overcome that by Labor. If it be [Page 239]Intemperance, be sober in your Diet, and perform some Abstinence by the Advice of your Ghostly Father.

Other particular Remedies against Impurity.

In flying the Causes of Impurity, you must apply the Remedies proper to cure, and entirely repell it. Amongst others I shall give you these Four, which are joyntly most necessary against this Sin, and very efficacious to preserve you from it.

The First is Prayer.First Remedy. God is the Au­thor of Purity, we must demand it of him, and the Grace to resist the Motions of that misfortunate Concupiscence, which causes continual Rebellions against the Spirit. Demand it daily, Theotime, but not asAt ego a­dolescens mi­ser valde, mi­ser in exordio adolescentiae etiam petie­ram à te casti­tatem, & dix­eram, da mihi castitatem & continentiam, sed noli modo. Timebam e­nim ne me cito exaudires; & cito sanarer à morbo concupiscen­tiae, quam malebam expleri quam extingui. S. Aug. lib. 28. Con­fes. 7. St. Augustin begg'd it in his Youth, de­siring Chastity, yet was afraid to obtain it; but beg it ardently, and with an ear­nest longing to acquire it from God. Cor mundum crea in me, Deus; O God, give me a clean Heart, and renew in my Bowels an upright Spirit. If you demand it, you will obtain it, and remember to recommend your self to the Blessed Virgin, as we have said above.

The Second Remedy is frequent Con­fession to a discreet Ghostly Father.Second Remedy. This Remedy is so necessary, that without it 'tis morally impossible to be cur'd of this Sin; and it is so efficacious, that with it we may easily overcome that Vice. We have spoken sufficiently above of it in Part 2. Chap. 5, & 7. To shew the ne­cessity of the Conduct of a wise Man a­gainst this Sin,Excesserunt caput meum vepres libidi­num, & nulla erat eradicans manus. Aug. l. 2, Conf. c. 3. I only add, that St. Austin deploring the Disorders of his Youth, was extream sorry that he had not then met with a discreet Hand, which might root out his lascivious Passions, which increas'd in his Soul without number or measure. Your Confessor, Theotime, will do you this good Office.Hic si solus fu­isset quo ad­jutore super­asset? Hieron. Epist. ad Eu­stocb. And S. Jerom, after he had recounted the Directions with which a Superior of a Monastery had deliver'd a young Man from violent Temptations with which he was troubled, makes this Reflection; If this young Man had been a­lone, how could he have ever conquer'd these Assaults? You see by this, Theotime, how much the Assistance of a discreet Person is necessary to overcome the Sin of Impu­rity.

The Third Remedy is Reading and Me­ditating on pious things,Third Remedy. which fill the Mind with good Thoughts, banish wicked ones, and fortifie it in time of Temptati­ons. Such are principally the Thoughts of the grievousness of Sin, of the Justice of God, of his Greatness, of his Goodness, and other things, which you will see in the [Page 241]following Chapter, Art. 3. the remem­brance of Death, of Judgment, and of Eternal Punishment. Endeavor to fortifie your Mind with these Reflections, by often reading these things seriously and atten­tively in some Book which treats of them.

The Fourth is Labor.Fourth Remedy. This serves to divert the mind from wicked thoughts,Nunquam va­cat lascivire districtis. Se­neca Ep. 56. and to take away from the Flesh the op­portunity of rebelling against Reason. You will find by Experience, that this is an ex­cellent Remedy, if you carefully apply your self to it. S. Jerom recounts a very notable Example of himself, which you may may make use of very well. He saith,Dum essem juvenis & so­litudinis me deserta valla­rent, incenti­va vitiorum ardoremque naturae ferre non poteram. Quem cum crebris jeju­niis frange­rem, mens ta­men cogitati­onibus aestua­bat. Ad quam edomandam cuidam fratri qui ex Haebre­is crediderat me in discipli­nam dedi; ut post Quintili­ani acumina, Ciceronis flu­vios, gravita­tem Fronto­nis, & leni­tatem Plinii, alphabetum discerem, & stridentia, an­helantiaque verba medi­tarer. Quid ibi laboris in­sumpserim, quid sustinu­erim difficul­tatis, quoties desperave­rim, quoties­que cessave­rim, & con­tentione discendi rursus inceperim, testis est conscientia, tam mea qui passus sum, quam eorum qui mecum vitam duxerunt, & gra­tias ago Domino quod de amaro semine literarum dulces fructus capiam. S. Hieron. Epist. ad Rusticum. that being a young Man, shut up in the so­litude of the Wilderness, whither he was retir'd for the practice of Vertue, he could not support the Heats of his Youth, which caus'd continual and violent Temptations; and tho he repress'd them with frequent Fastings, his Mind was still molested with impure thoughts: For the conquering of which he was advis'd of a most efficacious Means. He submits himself to the Con­duct of an Hebrew Master to learn the Hebrew Language, adding this painful Labor to that which he now exercis'd in the Study of Latin Authors, desiring to perfect himself exactly in the Sharpness of Quintilian, in the Eloquence of Cicero, in the grave Stile of Fronton, and in the Sweet­ness of Pliny. This Labor caus'd so great Troubles and Difficulties, that he frequent­ly left off, despairing to be ever able to at­tain [Page 242]to his Desire; yet afterwards he re­new'd his Pains, out of the great longing he had to learn. But the Vexation of this Trouble was recompenc'd with the Fruit he receiv'd from thence: For he obtain'd by this means what he sought for by it, the deliverance from his vehement Tem­ptations, from which he found himself free, enjoying afterwards a sweet tranquil­lity. And, I give God thanks, says he, that from this bitter Seed of Study I now gather most pleasing Fruits. Behold, Theotime, what an effectual Remedy Labor is against the Vice of Impurity.

Of Temptations.

I Treat here of Temptations, because al­tho' one may be tempted with all sorts of Sins, yet the Temptations of the Sin of Impurity are more ordinary and prin­cipally to young Persons, and more diffi­cult to encounter with, and cause a great obstacle to their Salvation. For this rea­son it is most important, that they should be well Instructed to resist and overcome them.

What Temptation is, and of the Means to know whether one hath sinn'd in a Tem­ptation.

We call Temptation a Proposal of Sin made to the Soul,What Tempta­tion is. to induce her to commit it, or rather a Thought alluring to Sin.

Now the Soul may consent unto Sin Three manner of ways. 1.Sin may be con­sented to three ways. By actually and voluntarily doing it. 2. In not perform­ing, but desiring to perform it. 3. Neither performing nor desiring, but taking plea­sure or delight in the Sin. Or to say o­therwise, the Will may consent unto Sin by the Action, by the Desire, and by Com­placence or wilful Delectation. From hence arise two things which ought to be well taken notice of.

1. That there is nothing but Consent which causes the Sin, and by consequence the Thought alone of a Sin, is not a Sin, as long as the Will doth not consent in one of those three manners; and altho' the Thought should continue a long time, it is not a Sin without Consent; but on the contrary, it is meritorious to reject it.

2. To know whether one hath sinn'd mortally in a Temptation,An imporiant Remarks it is not suffi­cient to consider, whether one hath done a wicked Action, or desir'd it; but one must take notice whether he hath wilfully taken pleasure in thinking on it: For the [Page 244]voluntary Delectation of a mortal Sin, is a mortal Sin. This must be well observ'd, because there are many who deceive them­selves therein, and believe they have not consented to a Temptation, but when they had either done or desir'd the Evil to which they were tempted.

Nevertheless, one necessary thing is here to be observ'd, viz. That there are two sorts of Delight in Temptation; the one which precedes the Consent, which is that one feels in the beginning of the Temptation, and which draws the Will to Consent. The other which follows the Consent, and it is that which the Will takes in the thing proposed. This Se­cond Delight is a Sin, but not the First.

Wherefore, to see whether you have sinn'd by the Delectation of an evil Thought, you must know whether that Delight were voluntary, that is, whether you gave your Consent. And because an Action cannot be voluntary, except know­ledge went before, to judge whether you consented to that Delectation, you must take notice whether you perceiv'd it, and how you behav'd your self after you reflected on it, viz. whether you conti­nu'd to entertain your self therewith or no; for if you have continu'd, it is vo­luntary, and so you have sinn'd. And this Sin was either Mortal or Venial; Mor­tal, if you continu'd with a deliberate Will, or by a voluntary and affected Negli­gence. Venial, if that Continuation was [Page 245]thro' Inadvertence, and without an entire Consent, not desiring really to please your self therein, and yet also not using neces­sary Endeavors to reject it.

That one cannot avoid being tempted, and that we must be provided betimes to resist Temptations.

Son, when you begin to apply your self to the Service of God, Fili, accedens ad servitutem Dei, sta in ju­stitia, & in ti­more, & prae­para animam tuam ad ten­tationem. Eccl. 2. be firm in Justice and in the Fear of God, and prepare your Soul for Temptation. It is the chief Advertisement which the Wiseman gives, and which you ought often to have before your Eyes. It is a certain Maxim, That we cannot live here without Temptations. This Life is a perpetual Combat, according to that Saying of the Scripture, which affirms, that Man's Life is a Warfare upon Earth. Militia est vi­ta hominis su­per terram. Job. We have Enemies which assault us on eve­ry side, within and without, visible and invisible. The World and exterior things furnish us with continual occasion of Sin.Pervigil ille tentator eos acrioribus pulsat insidiis, quos maxime videt abstine­re à peccatis. S. Leo. The disorder of Concupiscence perpetu­ally moves us that way, by the Rebellions it raises against the Spirit. The Devil, who watches Night and Day for our De­struction, employs all his Forces to make us fall into it.

Now if this common Enemy conspires generally to the Ruin of all Men, it is cer­tain he applies most vigorously the vio­lence [Page 246]of his Temptations against those who withdraw themselves from him,Diabolus quanto magis nos sibi rebel­lare conspicit, magis expug­nare conten­dit; eos enim negligit pul­sare, quos qui­eto jure pos­sidet. S. Greg. l. 4. Mor. c. 12. to serve their Creator, according to the Ob­servation of the Fathers. And amongst those he attacks most strongly young Peo­ple, whom he endeavors with all his force to divert from the Service of God, that he might secure himself betimes of their Ruine, as we have shewn, Part 1. Chap. 14.

This being so, dear Theotime, you must not wonder when you feel frequent Tem­ptations, nor also be out of patience to suffer them;We must not be impatient in Temptations. it is a thing you cannot a­void. Temptations are often the Effects of vicious Habits contracted by former Sins; sometimes they spring from the Occasions into which you voluntarily by your own fault cast your self. And in these two Cases you have no reason to complain but of your self. Without these two Causes, your Age will also furnish you with sufficient: The Enemy will not let you rest, or if he do, it is to surprise you more easily. You must therefore dis­pose your self couragiously for the Com­bat, and prepare the necessary Arms to defend your self in that War. Have a good courage then, dear Child, you will not be alone in this Combat; God will be there with you, to assist you to gain the Victory, and with the Victory, great Ad­vantages for your Salvation.

For these Temptations serve,Three great Be­nefits from Temptations. 1. To keep you in Humility, and in the fear of falling into Sin, and always to make you [Page 247]stand upon your Guard by Prayer, and other necessary Means. 2. To confirm you more and more in Vertue, and daily to increase therein: For every Resistance you make to Temptation, is a renewing and confirmation of the firm Resolution you have made, not to offend God any more upon any account whatsoever; and it merits new Grace from God to resist Temptations for the future. 3. These Temptations serve to secure your Salva­tion, and increase your Glory in Heaven.

Considerations to fortifie the Mind in Temptations.

Temptation being a Thought alluring unto Sin, it is certain the first Remedy which must be apply'd, is to furnish the Mind with contrary Thoughts, which may divert it from the Sin to which it is soli­cited. See here some of the most power­ful, which will be be able to raise a hor­ror of Sin in you, if you consider them attentively. Wherefore when you shall be tempted, and principally if the Tem­ptation be strong and obstinate, make one or more of these Reflections.

1. What are you going to do?Obstupescite coeli super hoc, & portae eus desolami­ni vehementer; duo enim mala fecit populus meus, me derelique­runt fontem aquae vivae, & foderunt sibi cisternas, cisternas dissi­patas quae continere non valent aquas. Jer. 2. You are going by one sole Action, and in a Mo­ment, to lose the Grace of God, to make [Page 248]your self his Enemy, unworthy of all his Favors, the Object of his Hatred and Indignation: You are going to renounce Heaven, to lose all the Good you have ever done, to render your self a Slave of the Devil, and subject to Eternal Damnation. O God! what a Loss is this! Weigh well all these things one after another.

2. But for what reason are you about to incur all this Damage? for the misera­ble Pleasure of a wicked Thought, of an unchast Desire, of an Action Dishonest, brutish and unworthy of Man:Quid tibi vis in via Aegypti ut bibas a­quam turbi­dam? Ibid. A Plea­sure which will last but a Moment, and being past, leaves nothing behind it but Sorrow, Vexation, and Remorse of Con­science, which will always persecute you. Do you act like a Man when you make such a Choice?

3.The Greatness of him offend­ed. Consider the Quality of him you are about to offend: You go to offend God infinit in Power, in Greatness, in Majesty, in Holiness.Non est simi­lis tui Domi­ne! magnus es tu & mag­num nomen tuum in forti­tudine. Quis non timebit te, ô rex Gen­tium? Jer. 10. Sapiens corde est & fortis robore; Quis restitit ei & pacem habuit? Deus cujus irae nemo resistere potest, & sub quo curvantur qui portant orbem. Job 9. Columnae coeli contremi­scunt, & pavent ad nutum ejus. Job 26. A saeculo confregisti ju­gum meum, repulisti vincula mea, & dixisti non serviam. Jer. 2. Peccatum est exhonorare Deum, quod non debet facere homo, etiamsi necesse erat perire. S. Aug. A God whom all Creatures adore, in whose Presence the Angels trem­ble: You are going to revolt from him, to cast off the Yoke of his Obedience, and say, Non serviam, I will not Serve. You wretched Man, pitiful Creature! you go [Page 249]to resist your Creator in his Face. O God, what an Indignity is this! Do you under­stand, Theotime, that the Injury Sin does to God is so great, that it were better the whole World were subverted, than one sole Sin committed?

4. If you could conceal your Sin from God, and not offend him in his Presence,Quem times major est omnibus: ipse timendus est in publico, ipse in secre­to. Procedis, videris, in­tras, videris, sucerna ardet, videt te, lu­cerna extin­cta est, videt te, in cubili in­tras, videt te, in corde ver­saris, videt te. ipsum time, cui cura est ut te videat, & vel timendo castus esto, aut si peccare vis, quaere ubi non te videat, & fac quod vis. S. Aug. Ser. 46. de Verbis Dom. Quo ibo à spi­ritu tuo, & quo à facie tua fugiam? Psal. 138. Ego sum judex & testis, dicit Dominus. Jer. 29.23. Videt te angelus malus, videt te angelus bonus, videt bonis & malis major angelis Deus, &c. sub cujus oculis velle delinquere tam insanum est, quam horrendum incidere in manus Dei viventis. S. Bern. de Conversione ad Clericos. cap. 16. you were less culpable; but you go to of­fend him before his Face, knowing well that he sees you, considers you, and regards with horror the Sin you are about to com­mit. What greater Affront can you offer him than this? You would blush for shame, if you should think to be seen by a Man in this Action, and have you no confusion to be seen by God himself? and to do that in his adorable Presence, which you would be asham'd to do in the presence of the most miserable of all Men? Can you shew a greater Contempt of God than this? O how blind are you! If you will offend God, seek at least a Place where he is not; and if you cannot find it, be asham'd to let that holy and adorable Eye see you in your Sin: And be afraid to commit a Crime before the Face of him who is at the same time both Witness and Judg, and who could strike you dead in the moment you have accomplish'd it.

Cast your Eyes upon the Goodness of him you are going to offend;Haeccine red­dis Domino popule stulte & insipiens? nunquid non ipse est Pater tuus qui pos­sidet te, & fe­cit & creavit te? incrassa­tus est dile­ctus, & recal­citravit, dere­liquit Deum fautorem su­um, & recessit à Deo salutari suo. Deum qui te genuit dereliquisti, oblitus es Do­mini creatoris tui; vidit Do­minus & ad iracundiam concitatus est. Deut. 32. Quid est quod dilectus meus in domo mea fecit scelera multa? Jer. 11. Popule mi, quid feci tibi, aut quid molestus fui tibi? responde mihi. Mich. 6. Who is it that you assault? Nothing less than your Celestial Father, who hath made you what you are, who hath given you all that you possess, who conserves you incessantly, and without whose assistance you could not move a Hand. You breathe only by the Air he gives you; and if he should aban­don you but one moment, you would fall presently into nothing. Look upon your self from Head to Toe, and you will find nothing but what comes from God: Yet you in the midst of all these Favors and all these Benefits, go about criminally to offend him, despising the Goodness of so liberal a God, the Love of so kind a Fa­ther, making use of his own Blessings a­gainst him, and to offer an Injury to him. Go you ungrateful and degenetate Child, more cruel than Beasts! Tigers have a love for him that feeds them, and you care not to offend the Author of all the Good you have.

Come now to that incomprehensible Abyss of the Divine Bounty, to the Master­piece of his Love, the Passion of his Son Jesus Christ. It is here, Theotime, it is here where you will find wherewith en­tirely to break the greatest Attempts of the most violent Temptations, more than any where else. Cast your Eyes upon [Page 251]your Saviour nail'd upon the Cross,Cum me pul. sat aliqua tur­pis cogitatio, recurro ad vulnera Chri­sti; cum me premit caro mea, recorda­tione vulne­rum Domini me resurgo; in omnibus adversitatibus non inveni tam efficax remedium, quam vulnera Christi. S. Aug. Manual. c. 22. Nullum tam potens est & tam efficax contra ardo­rem libidinis medicamen­tum, quam mors Redem­ptoris mei. Ibid. cap. 23. Rursum cruci­figentes sibi­met ipsis fili­um Dei, & os­tentui haben­tes. Hebr. 6. all cover'd with Wounds, overwhelm'd with Grief, dying for your Salvation. Fix there your Sight and Thoughts, consider, me­ditate attentively all that he Suffer'd; Re­member that it was for you, and for the Sins you have committed, that he Suffer'd in such a manner, and see whether you have a Heart hard and cruel enough to resolve to offend again a God dying for your Salvation, and crucifie him anew by mortal Sin. Altho', dear Child, the view of a God Crucifi'd for your Sins, shall not be capable to hinder you from offending him, will not the Blood he shed for your Salvation, soften your Heart? Will not all the Griefs he endur'd for you, have force to make you love him? All the Wounds he receiv'd are so many Mouths and Voices, which declare to you a hor­ror for Sin, and a love for Jesus; and can you behold them without either having a horror for Sin, which Crucifi'd Christ Jesus, or a love for Jesus Christ Crucifi'd for your Sins? O Jesus, permit it not, but cause by thy Goodness, that the sole thought of thy Death so touch our Hearts in Temptations, that it raise in us a hor­ror of Sin, and make us resolve to chuse rather to die than offend him again, who hath suffer'd Death for our Love.

How we must behave our selves in Temptations.

From the moment that you perceive your self to be assaulted with a Tempta­tion which offers to enter into your Mind,Nolo sinas co­gitationem crescere, nihil in te Babylo­nium. nihil confusionis adolescat. Dum parvus est hostis, interfice. Ne nequitia, ne zizania crescant, elidatur in semine. Audi Psalmistam dicentem, Filia Babylonis misera, bea­tus qui non tenebit, & allidet parvulos tuos ad Petram, &c. Pe­tra autem erat Christus. S. Hieron. Epist. ad Eustoch. 22. be careful readily to reject it without stay­ing therein never so little; It is the chief Remedy given by the holy Fathers, and particularly by St. Jerom, writing to the devout Lady Eustochium.

Now that you may thus stifle Tempta­tions in their birth, remember to perform two things.Statim ut li­bido titillave­rit sensum, aut blandum voluptatis in­cendium dulci nos calore perfuderit, erumpamus in hanc vo­cem: Domi­nus auxiliator meus, non ti­mebo quid fa­ciat mihi ca­ro. Ibid. 1. Raise your Mind to God, and protest unto him, that you renounce the Temptation with all your Heart, and will not consent unto it: Beg of him the assistance of his Grace to resist it, and ac­knowledge humbly that you can do no­thing without him. It is incredible, Theo­time, how powerful Prayer is in the mo­ment of Temptation. 2. After that ele­vation of your Mind, divert your self by applying your Thought to perform some­thing, as to Labor, to Read, to Speak with some one, to take some Recreation, or other like thing, which may keep your Mind employ'd, and you will find by Ex­perience, [Page 253]that the Temptation oftentimes without trouble will pass away, and va­nish.

If it continue and be obstinate to return, persevere in employing these two Means; Pray with more fervor, protest that you will not consent, proceed in entertaining your Mind with something else. If you be all alone, it will be good to stir up your self by some exterior Action of Devoti­on, as to raise your Eyes or Hands to Heaven, knock your Breast, cast your self on your Knees to demand of God Grace to resist. See the Example of S. Je­rom, Art. 8. It would also do very well to frighten your self with the remem­brance of Death, with the thoughts of Gods Judgments and of Eternal Damna­tion, according to that great Advertise­ment of the Wiseman,In omnibus operibus tuis memorare no­vissima, & in aeternum non peccabis. Eccl. 7.40. Remember the last things, and you shall never sin.

Have a care not to stop your Thoughts to look upon the Temptation it self,An important Advice. but apply your Mind to think upon the Mo­tives which may divert you. And for this effect, principally when the Temptation continues a long time, endeavor to make reflection upon one or more of the former Considerations, and after you have weigh­ed them well, make a sinal Resolution ne­ver to consent thereunto, altho' it should return a thousand times.

Not to content your self to reject a Temptation,Another Ad­vice to make use of the Tem­ptation, as a Motive to some vertuous Action. but to take an occasion from thence to perform some Action of Piety, is [Page 254]a most effectual Remedy against it. For Example, on the Day you have been tempted, apply your self more to Prayer than ordinarily, read some pious Book, do some Mortification, give some Alms to the Poor; and above all, in the time of Temptation exercise some Act of Vertue, as detesting of Sin, loving of God with all your Heart, protesting you will offend him no more. By this means you will defeat your Enemy with his own Arms; and he seeing that, instead of moving you to Sins by his Temptations, he gives you occasion to pra­ctise Vertue, will desist from tempting you, fearing to advance your Salvation by the same Means he employ'd to destroy you.

But above all,Third Advice, to distrust ones own Forces. Theotime, be careful when you resist a Temptation, not to confide in your own Forces, but to expect all from the sole Grace of God. This is a chief Means to overcome Temptations, humbly acknowledging that you can do nothing of your self, and that without the succor of Divine Grace you cannot conquer them. By how much more you discon­fide in your own strength, putting your confidence only in God, by so much more easily will you surmount them.Noli de viri­bus tuis prae sumere. Vide parvum con­tra Goliam, vide parvum contra ingen­tem, sed in no­mine Domini praesumen­tem. Tu venis ad me cum cli­peo & lancea, ego in nomine Domini om­nipotentis. Sic aliter non omnino, aliter non proster­nitur inimicus. Qui praesumit de viribus suis antequam pugnet, ipse prosternitur. S. Aug. Serm. 4. de verb. Apost. See (says S. Augustin) little David combating Go­liah. He was a Child without Force, with­out Arms, who encountred a Giant Arm'd Cap-a-pe from Head to Foot; but because he put all his confidence in God, he gain'd the Victory. Thou com'st to me (said David [Page 255]to Goliah) with Buckler and Lance, and I come to thee in the Name of the all-powerful God; And with that confidence he over­threw him at the first Stroke. Thus must you encounter with the Enemy of your Salvation. He (says St. Augustin) who trusts in his own Forces, is overcome before he Fights.

Now the principal Means to obtain many Favors of God in Temptations, is Prayer, and the frequentation of the Sa­craments, and chiefly Confession, which hath a wonderful force against Tempta­tions, and without it it is morally impos­sible to resist them any long time. See all we have said in Part 2. Chap. 5. & 7.

Of some Artifices by which the Devil deceives Men in Temptations, and principally young Men.

All the force of the Devil in Tempta­tions, consists only in Craft and Deceit; wherefore the best Means to resist him, is to know the Tricks he ordinarily makes use of. There are many, but I shall only take notice of Three amongst the rest, by which he maliciously abuses Men, and prin­cipally young Men.

The First is that by which he hinders them from regarding or knowing the Evil which is in the Sin they are going to com­mit;First Artifice. and on the contrary, he represents to their Imagination very livelily, on one side the sweetness of the Delight of Sin, which he alway makes them think far greater than it is, and on the other side the trouble and difficulty to resist it, and abstain from it, which makes them con­ceive it insupportable.

Who doth not see,The Falsity of this Artifice. that all these Delu­sions are great in all these three things? For the Evil which is in Sin is the chief­est of all Evils imaginable, as we have said above, Art. 3. The Delight of Sin is but for a moment, and it is follow'd by Vexa­tion, Sadness, and Despair. The trouble of resistance continues not long, and a sweet and pleasing Consolation follows it; it merits Heaven, and frequently the deliverance from many other Tempta­tions.

O dear Theotime, The Remedy. permit not your self to be abus'd in this manner by the Enemy of your Salvation: When he shall pro­pose a Temptation to you, cast an Eye upon the Evil you are going to do, which is a mortal Sin, the greatest of all Evils. Think not on the Pleasure that is offer'd, which will pass like a Shadow, but upon the Sorrow and Displeasure it brings after it. Regard not the Pain and Diffi­culty of resistance, but the Joy, Consola­tion, and Benefit you will receive from [Page 257]thence. If you act thus, you will find that the Temptation will in a small time va­nish.

The Second Deceit by which the Devil seduces young People,Second Arti­fice. is to propose un­to them in the Temptation, the easiness of getting Pardon, and perswade them that they will do Penance, and Confess themselves of it. Alas, Theotime, how frequently doth it fall out, and too often, that in the Combat of Temptation, the Conscience resisting on her side by the good Motions God gives her, this misfor­tunate Thought comes into the Mind, I will Confess my self of it, I will do Pe­nance for it: And with this Thought one miserably resolves to commit this Sin. What then? If you imagin'd that God pre­sently after the Sin would cast you into the Pit of Hell, you would not attempt to offend him; And because you hope he will pardon you, do not you scruple to dis­please him? O what Impiety is this! O Wickedness! Will you be Impious be­cause God is Good? Do you offend him be­cause he will pardon you? What greater Affront can be offer'd to God? O Theo­time, if ever this Thought come into your Mind, reject it as a Blasphemy, and as a Wile of the Devil, by which he would cast you into the abyss of Sin.

The Third Deceit of the Devil towards young Persons is,Third Artifice. that after he hath made them sometimes yield to his Temptations by the former Artifices, he puts into their [Page 258]Mind this false and wicked Opinion, That it is impossible to resist Temptations, and to abstain from Sin; to the end that be­ing possess'd with this Persuasion, they may make no Endeavors to resist them, and give themselves over to Evil without any restraint.The falseness of this Persua­sion.

A detestable Persuasion! a diabolical Invention! which is so much more deplo­rable, as being most false and pernicious, it is nevertheless most common amongst young People.O insensati Galatae! Quis vos fascinavit non obedire veritati? per­suasio haec non est ex eo qui vocat vos. Gal. 3. Poor insensible Creatures! what is it that dazles you thus, so that you cannot see the Truth more clear than day? Do you not see how this Thought is in­jurious to the Mercy of your Saviour, who hath shed his Blood to merit for you, Grace to resist in these Occasions, and who stretches out his Arms to succor you? This Persuasion comes not from him who calls you to him to save you, but from the Devil who seeks to destroy you without recovery.

O dear Child,The Remedies. permit not your self ever to be seduced by this execrable Thought, but in the midst of the most violent Tem­ptations call to mind the Mercy of your Saviour, who never abandons those who hope in him.Circumde­derunt me un­dique & non erat qui adju­varet, memo­ratus sum mi­sericordiae tuae, Domine, & cooperatio­nis tuae quae à sa culo sunt, quoniam eruis sustinentes te, Domine, & liberasti me de perditione. Eccl. 5. Tribulations, says the Wise­man, have environ'd me on every side, and there was no one that would assist me. I call'd to mind thy Mercy, O God, knowing that thou succorest those who trust in thee, and thou hast deliver'd me from my destruction.

These are the three most ordinary Ar­tifices the Devil makes use of against young Persons in their Temptations, and all three are pursu'd in order. For first, he hides from them the Evil, and makes them believe it is not so great as in reality it is. Next he persuades them, that they may easily discharge themselve of it. And in fine, when he hath them deeply en­gag'd, he makes the Difficulty to abstain vast and prodigious in appearance, that they may not attempt to acquit them­selves of it. Reflect well upon these three Artifices, and have a care not to be deluded by them.

Of two considerable Faults which ordina­rily happen to young Persons in Tempta­tions.

Besides the Fault they commit, who per­mit themselves to be deceiv'd by the three former Artifices, they fall into two others, which cause great Difficulties in them, and which you must observe, that you may carefully avoid them.

The First is, that when they see them­selves attacked by frequent Temptations,First Fault. they presently become impatient, and af­ter having resisted for a while, lose cou­rage, and yield to the Enemy, believing that they cannot resist him. This Error is very ordinary amongst young People, and [Page 260]it gives a great advantage to the Enemy of their Salvation over them.

Heretofore the City of Bethulia in Juda being Besieg'd by Holofernes, the princi­pal People of the Town, with all the Commonalty, betook themselves to their Prayers, to obtain of God their Delive­rance: And seeing God did not hear them so soon as they expected, they resolv'd to deliver themselves, if Succor did not come in Five Days. The couragious Judith be­ing advertis'd of this Resolution, disap­prov'd it much, and highly reprehended them, saying,Qui estis vos qui tenta­tis Dominum? non est iste sermo qui mi­sericordiam provocat, sed potius qui i­ram excitet & surorem ac­cendat. Posu­istis vos tem­pus miserationi Domini, & in arbitrium vestrum constituistis ei. Sed quia patiens est Dominus in hoc ipso poeniteamus, & indul­gentiam ejus fusis lacrymis postulemus. Expectemus humiles consolationem ejus. Judith 8. Who are you that thus tempt our Lord? This Design is not to attract the Divine Bounty to you, but to provoke his Fury and Revenge. What, have you limited a Time for the Mercy of God, and appointed a Day to succor you? We must not proceed in this manner. Let us do Penance, let us demand Pardon with many Tears, and with all humi­lity expect his Comfort.

I say the same to you, dear Theotime, when you vex your self in Temptations, and despairing to be able to resist them, you take a Resolution at length to deli­ver your self over to your Enemy, you offer a great Injury to God; for this is to distrust his Grace, and dispose of it as you please: This is not the Means to obtain it, [Page 261]but on the contrary, to make you fall more dangerously into the Temptations and Sin. No, no, we must not act thus, we must have patience in Temptations, and humbly expect the Divine Grace,Deus enim (nisi ipsi illius gratiae defue­rint) sicutopus bonum coepit ita perficiet, operans velle & perficere. Con. Tr. Ses. 6. cap. 13. which will never fail you, except you be wanting to it first. If you persevere couragiously to resist, he will either deliver you from the Temptations, or give you Grace to overcome them. Remember, that the greatest Saints have been tempted like you, and much more: Call to mind the Apo­stle S. Paul, who having demanded of God to be deliver'd from great Temptations,Ne magnitu­do revelatio­num extollat me, datus est mihi stimulus carnis meae, Angelus Sathanae qui me colaphizet, propter quod ter Dominum rogavi ut discederet à me, & dixit mihi, Sufficit tibi gratia mea, nam virtus in infirmitate perficitur. 2 Cor. 21. receiv'd this Answer from him, My Grace is sufficient for thee, for virtue is perfected in weakness.

The Second Fault young Persons com­mit in Temptations, is,Second Fault. that when they once chance to yield unto the Enemy, they lose Courage, cast away their Arms, and per­mit themselves to be overcome by all other Temptations, without any resistance. O God! what a strange Blindness is this! for being once conquer'd, to submit entirely to the Enemy; After having receiv'd some Wounds, to be content to receive many more; After having lost the Grace of God, to continue to provoke more and more his Fury, instead of readily appea­sing it by Penance.

The Israelites being assembled to Fight against the Tribe of Benjamin, to revenge a most enormous Crime committed by some of that Tribe, altho' they were far strong­er in the number of Men, they were de­feated in the first and second Battel.Quamobrem omnes filii Is­rael venerunt in domum Dei, & seden­tes flebant co­ram Domino, jejunaruntque die illo usque ad vesperam & obtulerunt ei holocausta, atque pacifi­cas victimas, & super statu suo interrogaverunt. Judic. 20. These two Overthrows highly astonish'd them, yet nevertheless they lost not Cou­rage; they came before the Tabernacle of God, and there they set themselves to Weep, to Fast, to make their Supplicati­ons, and offer Sacrifices to appease the Divine Anger. This being done, they took their Arms again, and went couragiously to the Combat, where they gain'd the Vi­ctory, and entirely defeated their Ene­mies.

This, Theotime, is exactly the Example of what you must do in the Combat of Temptations; you must not be discou­rag'd for being once conquer'd, but chear­fully Encounter again: You must have re­course to God, lament your Misery, beg Pardon of him, pacifie his Fury, implore the assistance of his Grace, and after ha­ving done Penance for your Sins, reassume your Arms in the Name of God, and give Battel more couragiously than before. The Sorrow for being vanquish'd must ex­cite you to resist your Enemy more reso­lutely, and your Lapse make you stand bet­ter upon your Guard for the future.

What is to be done after the Temptation is conquer'd.

We ordinarily commit two Faults after we are deliver'd from a Temptation.Two Faults af­ter the Tem­ptation is over­come. The First is, We give not Thanks to God for the Victory we have gain'd by the assi­stance of his Grace. The Second, We make no preparation to resist the following Temptations. These two Defects are the cause why we easily relapse into other Temptations, and are at length overcome by them. The First, because God would have us acknowledge his Favors, and par­ticularly great ones, such as is that of a Victory over a Temptation. The Se­cond, because he who doth not stand upon his Guard, is soon surpris'd by his Enemy.

1. It is therefore most important,First Remedy. Theo­time, when you have surmounted a Tem­ptation, that you have a care to give God Thanks for it, either sometime after the Temptation, or at least at the end of the Day in your Evening Prayers. Render him Thanks with all your Heart for this Victory, acknowledge that it comes from him alone, and not from you, and that without him you had a thousand times been vanquish'd.

2.Second Remedy. Prepare your self to resist Tempta­tions for the future. 1. Making a firm Protestation to God, to resist them with [Page 264]all your power. 2. Humbly demanding the continuation of his assistance. 3. Re­solving to make use of such and such Means which you know will happily suc­ceed.

If it chance that you remain some time without any Temptation, confide not too much in this Peace and Tranquillity:Saepe anti­quas hostis, postquam menti nostrae tentationis certamen in­flixerit, ab ip­so suo certa­mine ad rem­pus recedit, non ut illatae malitiae finem praebeat, sed ut in corda quae per qui­erem secura reddiderit, repente redi­ens facilius inopinatus erumpat. S. Greg. 3. Moral. 16. For it frequently happens, as S. Gregory observes, that the Enemy permits those whom he hath much tempted, to continue some time in quiet, that not having a care, he may soon after surprise them more easily, when they think least of him, and that he may make them fall into Sin by a sudden and violent Temptation. For this reason stand al­ways upon your Guard, demanding daily of God Grace to resist the Assaults of Temptations. Be careful to divert quick­ly from your Mind, all the first Thoughts that may move you to Sin.

Considerable Examples to teach us how we must Encounter with Temptations.

An ancient Author says very well, That the way to learn by Precept is very long,Longum iter per praecepta, breve & effi­cax per ex­empla. Seneca Epill. 6. hut that by Example is shorter and most efficacious. Wherefore it will be much to the purpose, to set here before your Eyes some of those who have couragiously combated against Temptations, that their [Page 265]Example may stir up your Courage, and teach you how to manage the Arms with which they have very fortunately over­come.

Amongst many others I might bring, I have chosen out the great S. Jerom, whom I would propose to you for a Model and Example. He was young as you are, at the time of these Temptations; he was more tempted than ever you will be, and perhaps amongst all the Servants of God, his Youth was most try'd by Temptations, and encounter'd them with an admirable Perseverance. I shall give you a Relation of what he himself recounts, read it at­tentively, and mark well all the Circum­stances.

This Saint being yet young, after he had spent some time in a worldly Life, was mov'd with a Desire to serve God, and labor to effect his Salvation by a true Con­version. He takes a Resolution to leave the World, and to retire into some Wil­derness to do Penance, and apply himself entirely to Vertue. He went first to Jeru­salem, to visit the Holy Places, and from thence he retir'd into the Desert.

He continu'd in that Place four whole Years, during which time, notwithstand­ing the incredible Austerities he under­went, he was tossed with continual Tem­ptations, and so great, that they move Compassion in those who read them. Be­hold what he says, writing to his devout Eustochium.

O how often in this vast Solitude, Quoties in eremo consti­tutus in illa vasta solitudi­ne quae exusta solis ardori­bus, horridum monachis praebebat ha­bitaculum, pu­tavi me Ro­manis inter­esse deliciis; sedebam solus, quia amaritu­dine repletus eram, horre­bant sacco membra de­formia, quoti­die lacrymae quotidie ge­mitus, & si quando repug­nantem som­nus imminens oppressisset, nuda humo vix ossa hae­rentia collide­bam: de cibis vero & potu taceo, cum etiam languentes Monachi frigida aqua utantur & coctum aliquid accepisse luxuria sit; ille igitur ego qui ob metum Gehennae tali me carcere damnaveram, Scor pionum tantum socius & ferarum, saepe choris intereram puellarum; Pal­lebant ora jejuniis, & mens desideriis aestaabat. In frigido cor­pore, & ante hominem suum carne praemortua sola libidinum in­cendia bulliebant. S. Jerom. Epist. 22. ad Eustoch. where the continual scorching Heat of the Sun makes the Habitation horrible and insupportable did the Delights of the City of Rome come to seek me, and present themselves to my Imagi­nation! The Sorrow and Bitterness with which my Soul was fill'd, made me seek the most retir'd Places to lament for my Sins. My Body now all hideous, was cover'd with a Hair Shirt; I ceased not to weep, and daily sigh; I had no other Bed than the Ground, nor other Nourishment than that of the Monks of the Desert, who drank nothing but Water, nor eat any thing but raw Herbs, even in their Distem­pers. In this State, and in this Prison, to which I had condemn'd my self to avoid that of Hell, altho' I had no other Company but that of Scorpions and savage Beasts; I found my self often in Imagination with the Roman Dames. Fasting bad made my Visage pale and disfi­gur'd, yet my' Mind did not cease to be in­flam'd with unchast Desires. In a languishing Body, and a Flesh mortifi'd, so that it seem'd almost dead before me, I burnt with the Flames of immodest Pleasures.

See the Temptations which this Saint endur'd, and the rude Assaults he hath sustain'd; but consider how this generous Champion behav'd himself.

In this deplorable State, Itaque omni auxilio desti­tutus, ad Jesu jacebam pe­des, rigabam lacrymis, crino tergebam, & repugnantem carnem heb­domadarum inedia subju­gabam. Me­mini me cla­mantem diem crebro junxis­se cum nocte, nec prius a pectoris cessasse verberibus quam redi­ret Domino imperante tranquillitas. S. Hieron. ibid. depriv'd of all human Succor, I cast my self at the Feet of Jesus Christ; I water'd them with my Tears as the Magdalen, I tam'd the Rebellions of my Flesh with whole Weeks of Abstinence: And amongst other things I remember, that some­times I pass'd whole Nights and Days, crying out for Succor, and imploring the Assistance of God in these Combats, and desisted not from Praying and knocking my Breast, till the Tem­pest was past, and God by his Grace had brought Repose and Tranquillity.

What an Example, Theotime, is this, to teach you how to encounter with Tempta­tions! But hearken yet to what follows.

And as God himself is my Witness (goes on the Saint) after many Tears, Et ut ipse mi­hi testis est Dominus, post multas lacry­mas, post coe­lo inhaerentes oculos, non­nunquam vi­debar mihi agminibus in­teresse Ange­lorum, & lae­tus gaudens­que cantabam, post te in odorem unguentorum tuorum curre­mus. Ibid. after having Pray'd a long time with Eyes rais'd to Hea­ven, I felt so great a Consolation, that some­times I seem'd to be plac'd amongst the Quires of Angels, and Sing with incredible Joy those excellent Words of the Spouse in the Canticles, I will run, O God, I will run now after thee in the odor of thy Perfumes, and in the sweet­ness of thy Consolations.

O what an Example, Theotime, is this, to animate you to combat the Temptati­ons of youth! O how admirable and in­structive is this for you, and all those of [Page 268]your Age! For amongst others, it teaches you Three things of great importance.Three things to be learnt from S. Jerom.1. That you ought not to be astonish'd to see your self tempted, since this holy Saint in his Youth, notwithstanding all his Mor­tifications, and remov'd from all Occasions of Sin, suffer'd so great Temptations. 2. It will teach you how to encounter with Temptations, viz. by Mortifications, and above all, by humble, fervent, and perse­vering Prayer. And in the 3d place, you there learn the greatness of the Joy God gives to those who have resisted Tempta­tions with much courage and perseve­rance.

O my dear Child!Practice. set this excellent Example often before your Eyes. When you shall be tempted, represent unto your self S. Jerom in the Desert, combating his Temptations with Tears, with Prayers, with Mortification, casting himself at the Feet of Jesus Christ, and imploring his As­sistance. Imitate him, let your Chamber serve you as a Solitude, to find there the Divine Succor against Temptations; and be assur'd, that after your Prayer God will send you Tranquillity, and make you feel an incredible Joy and Consolation, which will animate you anew to resist Temptations, and serve your Saviour more faithfully than ever.

Particular Obstacles to rich young Persons.

THE Obstacles we have spoken of hitherto, are common to all young People, of whatsoever Quality or Condi­tion. But because amongst the Conditi­ons there are some which bring with them particular Impediments, it is proper to treat briefly of them. These Conditions are chiefly Riches, Nobility, and Bene­fices.

As for Riches, there is no question but they cause a particular Obstacle to Sal­vation, since the Son of God himself as­sures us as much,Quod autem in spinas ceci­dit, hi sunt qui audierunt, & à sollicitudi­nibus & divi­tiis, & volu­ptatibus vitae euntes suffo­cantur & non reserunt fru­ctum. Iuc. 8. saying they choke the Seed of the Word of God in Souls, and hinder it from taking root, and bringing forth Fruit; which is true, not only in Men already advanc'd in Age, in whom Covetousness, and the love of Riches, of­ten bears Dominion, but also in young Men, to whom the possession of Riches is fre­quently a Hindrance of Salvation.

This is known sufficiently by Experi­ence, which manifests, that rich young People are ordinarily more vicious than others. We see them addicted to their Plea­sures, slothful, and Enemies to Labor, their Minds always taken up with Vanity, aspi­ring after Greatness, Fortune, and the Riches of the World, Proud, Presumptu­ous, despising all the World, Untractable, [Page 270]and resisting the most wholsom Instruction and Advices, subject to a vast number of Sins, oftentimes malicious and ingenious to effect it.Melior est pauper ambu­lans in simpli­citate sua, quam dives in pravis itineri­bus. Prov. 28. Deus superbis resistit, humi­libus autem dat gratiam. Jac. 4. Qui confidunt in virtute sua, & in multitu­dine divitia­rum suarum gloriantur. Psal. 48. And on the contrary, we see young Persons of a mean Condition or small Fortune, live in the Fear of God, and in Vertue, desirous to procure their Salvati­on, addicted to Labor, seeking good In­structions, and receiving them with Joy and much Fruit, departing as far as they can from Sin; or if they chance to fall in­to it, they continue not, but withdraw themselves immediately: And by this means they heap the Blessings of God up­on themselves; for God is pleas'd to fa­vor the Humble, and those who fear him, as on the contrary he rejects the Proud, and those who trust in their own Power, and glory in the multitude of their Riches.

I say this, Theotime, to the end I may admonish you, that if God hath order'd you to be born in a good and rich Condi­on, you take a care that your Riches serve not for your Damnation, as they do daily to many like you;Quam diffici­ce qui pecuni­as habent in regnum Dei intrabunt? Lucae 18. the multitude whereof makes but too evident that Truth deli­ver'd by the Mouth of Jesus Christ, who says, How difficult is it for the Rich to be saved? Wherefore you have need to per­form Three things.

1.Three Reme­dies. Be fully persuaded, as it is most cer­tain, that your Riches may much prejudice your Salvation, if you have not a great care to preserve your self from the Impe­diments they cause, and employ them use­fully.

2. Understand what these Obstacles are, that you may diligently avoid them. There are many in them, but those which are most particular are these, viz. Pride, Untractableness, Idleness, Love of Plea­sures, Vicious Company, and Flatteries of Men; Have a care of all these things.

Be Humble in your Riches,Nihilest quod sic generent divitiae quo­modo super­biam, omne pomum omne lignum habet vermem su­um, vermis divitiarum su­perbia est. Aug. Ser. 5. de ver. Domini. Quid prodest stulto habere divitias cum sapientiam emere non possit? Pro. 17. considering on one side, the danger they daily put you in of offending God, and ruining your self; and on the other side, the exact Account you must render to God of the good use you have made of them. Wherefore do you glory in the Riches you possess, which God can take away in a moment? and with which, as the Wise man says, you know not how to obtain the true Riches of the Mind, that is, Wisdom and Vertue. Riches, which if you possess them not, you, with all your Goods, are but like a Horse richly Trapped, which with all his Ornaments is but a Beast without Rea­son.

Render your self easie to be taught, and Tractable; be ready to learn, and willing to be reprehended; and be persuaded, that by how much you are Nobler and Richer, by so much ought you to be better instruct­ed, because you have so much more occa­sion of failing, and your Faults are of greater consequence than others.

Fly Idleness, so natural to the Rich.In labore ho­minum non sunt & cum hominibus non flagella­buntur. Ps. 72. Peccare vo­lunt sed non flagellari cum hominibus, un­de timendum est ne flagellentur cum daemonibus. S. Bern. Serm. ad Pastores. Remember that the Rich, as the Scripture says, are not in trouble as other Men, and not subject to the Afflictions of others. But [Page 272]S. Bernard adds, That there is great rea­son to fear, lest they should be afflicted with the Devils.

Preserve your self carefully from Dain­ties, which are the Baits of Pleasures. Remember that Chastity is in the midst of Dangers and Precipices, when surrounded with Riches, where daintiness of Nourish­ment, of Garments, of Lying, and a thou­sand other Occasions, expose it to a conti­nual hazard of Ruin, if not resisted with incredible Diligence.Vae qui opu­lenti estis in Sion, &c. qui dormitis in lectis eburne­is, & lascivitis in stratis ve­stris, qui co­meditis ag­num de grege, &c. bibentes vinum in phialis, &c. Amos 6. Vae vobis divitibus! quia habetis consolationem vestram. Lue. 6. Wo be to the Rich, (says the Prophet) who sleep in curious Beds, who seek Pleasure in their delicious Couches, who Feast, taking all Delight, whilst the Poor is in Misery, without shewing any Compassion towards him. And the Son of God, says, Wo be to the Rich, because they have their Consolation in this World.

Withdraw your self from wicked Com­pany, which your Riches will easily at­tract, as a Prey invites Birds. See what we have said above, Chap. 6.

Permit not your self to be surpris'd by Flattery,Adulatorum quoque assen­tationes & noxia blandi­menta fallaciae velut quasdam pestes animae fuge, nihil est quod tam fa­cile corrum­pat mentes hominum. S. Hier. Epist. ad Celan. which always accompanies the Rich, and which ordinarily perverts their Mind, and principally young Persons. Give not credit to any thing they shall say in your Commendation; for either they com­mend you for Things that deserve not [Page 273]Praise, as your Condition, your Wealth, your good Behaviour, or other like things; or for things you have not, as Science, Wis­dom, Vertue; or if you have them, they come not from you.

There remains the Third thing you are to perform, that is, to make good use of your Riches. I shall appoint you no other than that which S. Paul order'd Timothy to prescribe to the Rich; consider what he says, and comprehend it well.Divitibus hujus saeculi praecipe, non sublime sape­re, neque spe­rare in incer­to divitiarum, sed in Deo vi­vo, qui prae­stat nobis om­nia ad sruen­dum; bene a­gere, divites fieri in bonis operibus, fa­cile tribuere, communicare, Thesaurare sibi funda­mentum bo­num in futu­rum, ut ap­prehendant veram vitam. Tim. 6. Command the Rich of the World, that they be not high­minded, that they put not their confidence in the uncertainty of Riches, but in the living God, who giveth us abundantly all things to enjoy; that they apply themselves to Vertue, and be rich in good Works; that they give Alms free­ly, and communicate their Goods to those that want; that they lay up store for the time to come, and to obtain Eternal Life. This, Theotime, is the use of Riches, which the Holy Ghost prescribes to the Wealthy, and which you ought exactly to practise, if you will take care that you be not de­stroy'd by your Possessions. After all this, keep in your Mind that great Truth S. Cy­prian teaches you, which is,Tentatio est Patrimonium grande, nisi ad usus bonos census operetur, ut Patrimonio suo unusquisque locupletior, magis redimere debeat quam augere delicta. S. Cypr. lib. de Habit. Virgi. That a great Patrimony is a Temptation, if the Revenue one possesses be not employ'd in pious Ʋses; and by how much any one abounds in Wealth, by so much more ought he to make use of it to redeem his Sins, and not to multiply them.

Particular Obstacles to Noble Persons.

TO put Nobility amongst the Ob­stacles of Vertue, were to offer an Injury to it; but we shall do no wrong to Truth, if we say that the ill use which Persons in Dignity make of it, is a great Impediment to their Salvation, and fre­quently the cause of their Ruin and Dam­nation.

To see this Truth, and clearly under­stand, that there is no State ordinarily more corrupt, nor fill'd with Vice, than that of the Nobility, we need only make a little Reflection upon the Life of Great Men.

We see a prodigious Pride reign in them, which makes them contemn all the World, and esteem all others infinitly be­low them. Ambition, and a desire of growing Great, perpetually possesses them. They are extravagantly addicted to all their Pleasures, Lovers of Delights, Bold and Shameless to publish their Sins, and glory in them, Envious in the highest de­gree, Ty'd to their Interest, Affecting none but themselves, Unjust, Violent, Harsh, and often Cruel towards others, especially their Inferiors, Impatient and Cholerick, Given to Swearing and Blas­phemies, Revengeful even to excess, not being able to suffer or dissemble the least [Page 275]Injury, which frequently is grounded only in their Imagination, and even make open profession never to endure or dissemble any. O God! what a Life is this for Men who make profession of Christian Reli­gion!

And that which accomplishes the Mis­fortune of this Condition is,The detestable Passion for Duels. that detesta­ble Passion for Duels, with which they are so continually possest, that there is scarce a moment in their Life, wherein they have not a Resolution to expose themselves to Fight upon the first Injury, or at least at the first Challenge; A Resolution which keeps them in a continual mortal Sin, and hinders them from ever being in the Grace of God. Not to mention the Contempt of Religion, Sensuality and Impiety, which usually reign in that State, and especially now adays, where there are found so ma­ny who say unto God,Qui dixerunt Deo recede a nobis, scient­am viarum tuarum nolu­mus. Quis est omnipotens ut serviamus ei? Et quid nobis prodest si oraverimus illum? Job 21. as the Impious said in the Scripture, Depart from us, we will not have the knowledge of thy ways. Who is the all-powerful, who says that we must serve him? What doth it profit us to Pray unto him?

Is not this a thing much to be deplor'd, to see in the midst of Christianity, the fairest part of Christian States to be most corrupted? And that Nobility which is given as a Recompence of Vertue, and to excite others thereto, should become the Source of Vice, and the Fountain of the [Page 276]Corruption of Noble Persons: So that it is a Mark of Reprobation to many; and it were more desirable for the greatest part of Noble-men that they had never been born. For what advantage is it to be Great before Men, and to be wretched and contemptible in the sight of God?Quid prodest quod liber est in natura, qui servus est in conscientia? Euseb. Emiss. Hom. 3. de Pascate. To be honor'd by Men, and hated by God? To Command others, and to be a Slave to Vice, and his own Passions? And in a word, To be happy in this World, and damn'd for ever, being of the number of those who eternally cry out,Quid nobis profuit super­bia, aut divi­tiarum jactan­tia? quid con­tulit nobis? Tansierunt ista omnia tanquam umbra. Ergo erra­vimus à via veritatis. Sap. 5. What did our Pride profit us? What advantage hath the pomp of Riches brought to us? All those things are passed away like a Shadow. Where­fore we have err'd from the Way of Truth.

O my dear Theotime, if you be Noble, I beseech you to make here a serious Re­flection upon your self, and upon the Dan­ger your Nobility exposes your Salvation to. Distrust your State, and be afraid lest it should ruin you. By how much more you are rais'd in Condition, by so much more have you an Obligation to Vertue, and are in greater hazard of De­struction.Remedies a­gainst the Ob­stacle of Nobi­lity. Labor earnestly for your Sal­vation, and use all possible diligence that your Nobility be not a cause of you Dam­nation, as it is to many. For this Effect, practise the following Advices.

1.First Advice. Understand perfectly what true No­bility [Page 277]is. Nobility is inseparable from Ver­tue, it takes its origin from thence, and is only conserv'd by it. It hath been be­stow'd upon your Ancestors, in recom­pence of their worthy Actions; if you imitate them in their Vertue, you will me­rit the Title of Noble; if you imitate them not, you have but a false and imagi­nary Nobility.

2. Know,Second Advice. that besides this Nobility In­stituted by Men, there is a Divine Nobility infinitely rais'd above this, which is that which is acquir'd by Grace.Videte qua­lem charita­tem dedit no­bis Pater ut filii Dei nomi­nemur & si­mus. 1 Joh. 3. Intellige tibi esse genus de coelo. & age vivendo: san­cto responde­as patri; Dei silium ut se probat, qui vi­tiis non ob­scuratur humanis, qui divinis virtutibus elucescit. Chrysolog. Serm. 6, 7. For if No­bility consists in being born of Illustrious Parents, and of those that are considerable in the World, what Nobility will it be to be made the Child of God, Coheir of Jesus Christ, predestinated to possess the the Kingdom of Heaven? This, Theotime, is the great, the prime and the true Nobi­lity; if you possess this, you are really No­ble; and if you have it not, how Noble so­ever you may be before Men, you are most Infamous and Abominable in the sight of God.

3. This being so,Third Advice. permit not your self to be puft up with Pride and Arrogancy for your Nobility.Mala nobilitas quae se per su­perbiam apud Deum reddit ignobilem. Aug. Serm. 27. That is a wicked Nobility (says St. Augustin) which makes you con­temptible in the sight of God by its Pride. On the contrary, by so much more Humble, as you are more Noble, according to the [Page 278]Precept of the Wiseman;Quanto magnus es hu­milia te in omnibus, & apud Deum invenies gra­tiam. Eccl. 3. By how much greater you are, says he, by so much humble your self more in all things; and by this means you will render your self agreeable to God. It is an excellent Advice, like that which S. Jerom gives to Noblemen;Nulli te un­quam de ge­neris nobili­tate praepo­nas, nec inse­riores quasque aut humili lo­co natas te in­feriores pu­tes. Nescit re­ligio nostra personas ac­cipere, nec conditiones hominum, sed animos inspicit singulorum, servum & nobilem de moribus pronunciat, &c. S. Jerom. Epist. ad Celant. Prefer not your self before others by reason of your No­bility, and contemn not those who are not Noble. Our Religion hath no respect to Per­sons, it regards not the Condition of Men, but their Minds; it judgeth of Nobility by their Manners. There is no Nobility in the sight of God, but not to serve Sin. The height of Nobility is to be Illustrious in Vertues. O what an excellent and necessary Advice is this for Noblemen!

4.Fourth Ad­vice. Endeavor to observe well the ordi­nary Vices of the Nobility, that you may carefully avoid them; we have hinted at some of them, you will here also find others; have a care to encounter them in good time, that you may shun them, and clear your self from them, demand­ing daily of God for this effect the assi­stance of his Grace.Exiguo enim conceditur misericordia, potentes au­tem potenter tormenta pa­tientur. Sap. 6. Remember that the Justice of God will be severe towards the Great and Noble, and their Sins will be punish'd more rigorously than those of others, as it is said in the Book of Wis­dom.

5.Fifth Advice. Make your Nobility advance Ver­tue. You will say, How can this be? See [Page 279]how. If being Noble you be Vertuous,Minimè qui­dem Deus est acceptor per­sonarum, ne­scio tamen quo pacto vir­tus in nobili plus placet. S. Bern. Epist. ad Sophi. first your Vertue will be in some manner more agreeable to God, according to the Judgment of St. Bernard. Besides, your Example will move others to Vertue, your Discourse will have more authority to persuade them to Good; They will give credit to you, when you mildly reprehend their Faults. You will have Means to comfort the Afflicted, Credit to relieve the Oppressed; You may often take up Quarrels, and reconcile Enemies. Pra­ctise your self in all these things, and God will give a Blessing to your Nobility, and you will be Noble both before God and Men.

See yet many things which concern Nobility in Part 5. Chap. 11. Article 1.3. & 4.

Particular Obstacles of young Incumbents, or such as have Benefices without Cure.

I Shall not Discourse to you here of all the Obstacles which Benefices may bring to the Salvation of Incumbents, but only of those you may meet with during your Youth, reserving to speak of the o­thers at the End of this Work. Here I shall only take notice of Four amongst others.

The First consists in this,First Obstacle. That being an Incumbent from your Youth, the Benefice [Page 280]designs you to an Ecclesiastical State, be­fore you be capable to make choice of it, and perhaps you are not fit for it, nor call'd by God; and perhaps, as it often happens, you have an aversion and repugnance to it. This Obstacle is of great Consequence, and deserves to be well consider'd; For those who enter thus into an Ecclesiastical State, put themselves in danger of com­mitting great Faults therein, and of never obtaining their Salvation; because that State bringing with it vast Obligations, and requiring a greater Stock of Vertues and Perfections than others, requires a more advis'd Deliberation, and chiefly a Vocation from God. I shall appoint a Re­medy for this Obstacle hereafter.

The Second Obstacle springs from the more particular Obligation which the Be­nefice brings of living holily.Second Obsta­cle. All Christi­ans are oblig'd to Vertue, but the Clergy and Incumbents by reason of the Sanctity of their State, have a stricter Obligation to it. This Obligation renders their Sins more heinous, and them more criminal in the sight of God, and is the cause that, when they are vicious, they draw upon their Heads the Divine Anger, and his forsaking them: From whence it happens, that they become more wicked than others, more obstinate in Vice, and more incapable of Correction and Amend­ment.Third Obstacle.

The Third Obstacle comes from the Obligation they have to recite the Divine [Page 281]Office, of which young Incumbents dis­charge themselves very badly, altho' they be oblig'd to it under mortal Sin, and o­mitting to say it, are oblig'd to the resti­tution of the Fruits of their Benefice, ac­cording to the number of the Days they have omitted it. This Impediment of the Salvation of Incumbents is very great: For the contempt of their Duty, and these mortal Sins thus neglected and repeated, rendring them more unworthy of the Grace of God, are the Causes why they fall into many other Sins, and into extream Disorders, as we daily see.

The Fourth Obstacle arises from the Obligation they have of exterior Mode­sty,Fourth Obsta­cle. and an Ecclesiastical Habit; because, as the Council of Trent says admirably well,Etsi habitus non faciat Monachum, oportet ta­men Clericos vestes pro­prio congru­entes ordini semper deferre; Ut per decentiam habitus extrinseci morum ho­nestatem intrinsecam ostendant. Conc. Trid. Sess. 14. c. 5. Altho' the Habit makes not a Monk, yet nevertheless the Clergy ought always to wear a Habit conformable to their State, that by the modesty of their exterior Habit, they may dis­cover the interior Goodness of their Manners.

But now adays Incumbents, and parti­cularly young ones, know nothing of this Obligation: For we see them Cloath'd like others,Abuses of this Obligation. always in short Garments, sometimes in undecent Colours, cover'd with Laces and other worldly Ornaments, like Lay-men; in long Hair, and often Curl'd and Powder'd, like Courtiers. This is an intolerable Abuse, which causes many [Page 282]Disorders amongst Incumbents, who not being distinguish'd from the Laity in their Habit, do not believe their Duty to con­sist in their Life and Manners. It is a Disobedience to the Church, which in all her Councils complains of this Disorder, and commands Incumbents to wear an Ecclesiastical Habit. It is a Contempt of Religion, and of the Ecclesiastical State, as the Council of Trent calls it. It is a consi­derable Injustice; for is it not an unjust Action, to desire to live on the Patrimony of the Church, and not be content to bear her Mark?

Let every one take care of this that will, but Incumbents who live thus, and will not change, are not in the State of Grace, neither can they receive Absolu­tion, if they have not a full purpose to wear an Ecclesiastical Habit. Now, if not they but their Parents enjoy it, as it often happens, they are oblig'd to admo­nish them; and the Parents are not in a good State of Conscience, but sin grie­vously, if they hinder them from wear­ing a Habit agreeable to their State.

For the remedy of these Obstacles, see what you are to do.

As for the First,First Remedy. consider whether you have a repugnance to an Ecclesiastical Life, and whether you be not determin'd to undertake that State; for in that case you cannot with a safe Conscience keep your Benefice, you are oblig'd to quit it, and advertise your Parents, or those on [Page 283]whom you depend, that you have no in­tention of being an Ecclesiastic. If you be only unresolv'd, not having as yet an absolute Will to be or not to be of that Condition, you should endeavor to resolve the soonest you can.

Now if you have no repugnance, but rather an Inclination to an Ecclesiastical Life, think not that your Benefice ought to be a sufficient Mark of your Vocation; for perhaps you are not fit for it. Where­fore never desist from begging daily of God, to know the State which is most pro­per for his Service, and your own Salva­tion; and performing all that, you ought to make a good Choice of your Condition, as we shall shew you hereafter.

For a remedy of the three other Obsta­cles,Remedy for the three other Ob­stacles. labor to acquit your self of three Obligations of your Benefice which I even now hinted to you: Live Vertuously, en­deavoring to render your Youth pleasing to God; Recite your Office exactly, and devoutly; Be Cloth'd like an Incumbent, that is, not being in Holy Orders, in a black Habit, without Ornaments; your Hair very modest, wear a long Garment as much as you can upon Sundays and Feasts, and always when you partake of the Sacraments of Confession and Com­munion.

If you do thus, Theotime, it will befall you as it did the Prophet Samuel, who was Dedicated by his Parents in his Child­hood [Page 284]to Serve in the Tabernacle of God This young Child behav'd himself so faith­fully in that Place,Puer autem Samuel profi­ciebat at que crescebat, & placebat tam Deo quam ho­minibus. Cre­vit autem Sa­muel & erat Dominus cum eo. Et cogno­vit universus Israel quod fi­delis Samuel Propheta es­set Domini. 1 Reg. 2. that he became agreea­ble to God, according to the proportion he increas'd in Age; and, as the Scripture says, God was with him, and the Services he did in the Tabernacle during his Youth were so pleasing to him, that he chose him for his Prophet, and manifested to all his People the choice he had made. Thus, Theotime, if you serve God faith­fully in an Ecclesiastical State, to which by your Benefice you are Dedicated in your Youth, God will give a Blessing to the Entrance you have made, and will do you the Favor one day, to employ you to serve him in that holy State, and procure thereby your own Glory, and the Salva­tion of Souls.

Advice to Parents upon the same Subject.

AS the Parents are the first Causes of all the Obstacles which Benefices bring to the Salvation of their Children, it is necessary to give them here a very important Advice, that they may afford a convenient Remedy.

They are the Persons who with an insatiable Greediness seek Benefices for their Children: They make them take [Page 285]the [...] [...]cal State, before they know what it is; They inconside­rately charge them with Benefices, who Present themselves without being con­cern'd to know whether they be fit or Call'd by God, or whether they will discharge the great Obligations of that Calling. All their Care aims at find­ing Benefices, and sometimes by ill and dangerous Ways, at advancing the Re­venue, receiving and disposing of it as they please, against the Intention of the Founders, and of the Church her self; making their Children learn a little Latin, neglecting in the mean time all the rest which is most necessary, viz. the Care of making their Children acquit them­selves of the Obligations of their State, say their Office, wear an Ecclesiastical Habit, live conformable to their Profes­sion, and of causing them to be bred up in an Ecclesiastical Spirit, and instructed in the knowledge of their Duty. O wicked Parents! who for a little Temporal Wealth, charge themselves with all the Sins of their Children, and with their Children engage themselves in an inevi­table Damnation. And yet more misfor­tunate the Uncles and other Relations of Incumbents, who have no less disordi­nate Affection for their Nephews and Cou­sins, whom they blindly charge with Be­nefices, and themselves with all the Ill they cause in the Church, as we daily see. [Page 286] Huic par­vulo & forsi­tan nondum nato, Ecclesia­stica jam Be­neficia provida parentum solicitudo parabat. Illum Praepositus aut Decanus ut sibi succederet plusquam Materno educabit affectu in deliciis enutriens & delictis. Ille dignus Archidiaconatu quia filius principis, magis autem si sit Episcopi consobrinus in quo nimirum tota videtur Episcopatus progenies. S. Bern. in Declamationibus. This was a Disorder which St. Bernard deplor'd in his Time, whose Words I shall put in the Margin.

The Remedy of this Evil is in the Hands of the Parents themselves; it belongs to them to moderate that great Greediness they have for Benefices, to make more ac­count of the Salvation of their Children, than of their Temporal Possessions, and prefer the Quiet of their Conscience be­fore the Advancement of their Families, which Benefices instead of raising, as they think, frequently ruin.

For this effect they ought to have a care, not to bestow Benefices upon their Children, without having seriously consi­der'd their Spirit, their Inclinations, and the Dispositions they have to an Ecclesi­astical Calling; And that they may per­form it with more certainty, they should not be Judges thereof themselves, but make the Inclinations of their Children be Examin'd by able Persons, to whom the Children may freely declare their repug­nance, if they have any, to that Dignity, as it frequently happens, who might judge religiously of their Dispositions for the same State, without Interest, without Com­placence, [Page 287]and declare sincerely to the Fa­thers the Judgment they make of them, whether they think the Children fit for an Ecclesiastical Calling, as much as they may guess in that Age. The Fathers may follow their Judgment with the ensuing Precautions, viz. To take a great care of the Education of the Children they design for the Church; Make them be brought up in the Fear of God, in an Ec­clesiastical Spirit, in the Knowledge of their State and its Obligations, and not in the Vanity and Spirit of the World, as they often do. For this end commit them to Persons of Piety, of Prudence, of Learn­ing, who have the Zeal of an Ecclesiastical Spirit. Have a care that they acquit them­selves of the Obligation of their Office; That they wear the Habit of Clergy­men, at least as we have said in the prece­dent Chapter; That they live holily, as Children destin'd to the Church; Dispose well of the Revenues of the Benefices, em­ploying it to discharge their Duty in an honest and moderate Maintenance of an Incumbent, and the rest in pious Works. And in fine, they ought to observe the Manners and Inclinations of their Chil­dren, informing themselves by their Ma­sters to whom they are committed, and whether they know they be inclin'd to an Ecclesiastical State, or have not convenient Dispositions for it; for then they are ob­lig'd to dispose of their Children in some other Employ.

If they do otherwise than what we have said, they render themselves culpable of a vast number of Sins which their Children commit in an Ecclesiastical Calling, which is a horrible thing to reflect on; and for the Temporal Goods they have too much affected, they will incur their Eternal Damnation, and that of their Children. Now to the end they may be more con­vinc'd of their Obligation concerning this Subject, let them take the pains to read the former Chapter, and also Chap. 9. of Part 5.

The End of the Third Part.

Of the Vertues necessary for young Persons.

THIS, Theotime, is the chiefest part of your Instruction, to which the three former relate as the Means to their End; for after the Proposal of the Motives to incline you to Vertue, the ne­cessary Means to acquire it, the Obstacles which might divert you, and ought to be avoided during your Youth; there now remains to give you the Practice of Ver­tue, and shew the particular Vertues to which you ought to apply your Studies more carefully in your Youth, to render your self truly Vertuous, and which ought [Page 290]to serve as a Groundwork to others, which will be necessary for you in the Course of your Life.

That young People ought to propose to them­selves the Imitation of our Lord Jesus in his Youth.

BEing that all Christian Piety, both in Great and Small, consists in imitating our Lord Jesus Christ, I would first of all propose here that Divine Pattern, to give you a perfect Model of the Vertues you ought to acquire, and by which you ought to form your Youth.

It was for this Reason, according to the Observation of one of the Fathers of the Church, why this Divine Master being come to Teach and Save all Men, was pleas'd to pass thro' all the Ages of Man, even to a perfect Age, to sanctifie them all, and by making himself like unto them, more easily invite to his Imitation.

Ideo in om­nem venit ae­tatem, & in­fantibus in­fans factus, sanctificans infantes, in parvulis par­vulus, sancti­ficans hanc ipsam haben­tes aetatem; simul & exem­plum illis pie­tatis effectus justitiae & sub­jectionis. In juvenibus ju­venis exem­plum juveni­bus sactus, & sanctificans Domino. S. Irenaeus l. 2. adversus here­ses. c. 39. For this Reason, says he, he made himself a Child to Children, that he might sanctifie them. He made himself a Little-one to Lit­le-ones, giving Holiness to those of that Age, to the end he might afford them in his Person an Example of Piety and Sanctity, and Sub­jection. He made himself a young Man to young Men, giving them a Pattern, and san­ctifying them for the Service of our Lord.

It is by this Divine Pattern of Youth, dear Theotime, that you must form yours, and regulate your Actions. It is from him that you must learn the Vertues you ought to practise in that Age,Inspice & fac secundum exemplar quod tibi in monte mon­stratum est. Exod. 25. Look, and do ac­cording to the Example which is shew'd you.

Now we find Four things in the Gospel which the Son of God did during the Youth of his mortal Life.

The First is his hidden Life which he was pleas'd to lead all that time, not ma­nifesting himself to Men, but only to his most blessed Mother and S. Joseph; to teach young People to fly Vanity, so natural to their Age, and also hurtful, and not to seek after the Esteem of the World by a vain ostentation of their Parts or Vertues; but only to please God, and content their Pa­rents and Masters, by a solid Progress in Vertue and Wisdom.

The Second is the Example of Piety and Religion he was pleas'd to give, by going to the Temple at solemn Feasts, ac­cording to the Command of the Law, al­tho' he was not oblig'd to it; being there, he hearkned to the Doctors, and asked them Questions, as if he would learn of them, he who was Master of the Doctors and of the Law it self. An admirable Ex­ample, by which he would shew to young People the Affection they ought to have for Piety, and that their first Care must be to serve God and labor for their Salvation, addicting themselves to Acts of Religion, to Prayer, to assist at the Divine Sacrifice, [Page 292]to the Sacraments, to the Word of God, and to seek Instruction from the Mouth of the Wise, and from those whom God hath given them for their Conduct.

The Third thing is that so admirable Obedience he shew'd to his Parents, which the Gospel declares in these Terms;Et descendit cum eis & ve­nit Nazareth & erat subdi­tus illis. Luc. 2.42. He return'd with them unto Nazareth, and was subject to them. An Example which ought to confound all young People, who have ordinarily so great a repugnance to Submission. What a shame is this for you, Theotime, when you are wanting to the great Respect you owe to them from whom you receive your Life and Instru­ction, having before your Eyes the Ex­ample of God,Deus erat sub [...]itus, quis, quibus? ho­minibus Disce, terra subdit, disce pulvis obtemperare, erubesce su­perbe cinis, Deus se humiliat, & tu te exaltas? S. Bern. Hom. 1. Super missas. who obeys his Creatures? And what Reply will you give to the Son of God concerning your Disobedience, when he shall reproach you, that he was pleas'd to be subject and obedient for your Example?

The Fourth thing that the Gospel teaches us of the Youth of our Lord is,Jesus profi­ciebat sapien­tia & aetate & gratia apud Deum & ho­mines. Ibid. That according to the measure he advanc'd in Age, he visibly increas'd in Wisdom and Grace before God and Men; which is not to be understood of an interior increase of these two Perfections in the Soul of the Son of God; because from the moment of his Conception he was accomplish'd with them in a perfect fullness. But this is to be [Page 293]understood as to the Effects he made ap­pear in his Divine Actions from Day to Day. As the Sun, which altho' he be as much adorn'd with Light at his Rising as at Mid-day, is said to become more light according to the degrees he rises, because his Light appears with more brightness to our Eyes. But the Gospel hath made this Observation, to give to Christian young Persons the most important Advertise­ment of the great care they ought to have to employ their Years to increase in Wis­dom and Vertue, and to avoid that so uni­versal a Fault of the greatest part, who seem to advance in Age to no other end than to diminish in Innocence. It is a Mis­fortune infinitely to be deplor'd, to see that Children should be corrupted accord­ing to the measure that they grow in big­ness, and that their Age should serve them for nothing else but to learn Vice, Lying, Impurity, Pride, Disobedience, Dissolute­ness, as St. Augustin takes notice of him­self.Jam mortua erat adole­scentia mea mala & nefan­da, & ibam in juventutem quanto aetate major, tanto vanitate tur­pior. S. Aug. lib. 7. Conf. cap. 1. Children of Jesus Christ! is it thus that you imitate your Master? He made himself a Child like you, to invite you more sweetly to his Imitation, and to teach you to employ your first Years in the increase of Vertue, and you miserably lose them in learning Vice. Cast your Eyes upon this Divine Pattern, to reform by it the Abuses of your Youth which you have committed, and learn to increase in all Christian Vertues, which is, to be the Disciple and Child of Jesus Christ. Now [Page 294]that you may perfectly understand them, I shall here represent them to you one after another.

Of the Fear of God.

THE First Vertue that is necessary for you, is the Fear of God; it is that which next to Faith is the Basis and Groundwork of all others. The Scripture calls it The beginning of Wisdom; and it teacheth us, that it is the first thing which ought to be inspir'd into young Souls. For this reason Salomon Instructing Youth in his Proverbs, begins his Instru­ction with this excellent Precept, so of­ten repeated in Scripture,Initium sa­pientiae ti­mor Domini. Prov. 5. The Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom. And the same Scripture, in the History of holy Tobias, observes expresly, that being a Child,Genuit ex ea filium quem ab infantia ti­mere Deum docuit, & abstinere ab omni peccato. Tob. 1. He instructed him from his Infancy to fear God, and to abstain from all Sins.

Now by this Fear we must not under­stand a gross and servil Fear, that regards nothing but the Punishment and Chastise­ment, which it apprehends more than the Offence;What this Fear is. but a respectful Fear, by which considering the Greatness, and Majesty of God, his Sanctity, his Power, his Justice, we conceive a profound Respect, and ap­prehend [Page 295]above all things to fall by mortal Sin into the Displeasure of a God so Great, so Holy, so Powerful, so Just. We have already spoken of it above in Part 2. Chap. 1.

That, Theotime, is the Fear of God which is the beginning of Wisdom, and the foundation of true Piety.Practice of the Fear of God. It is that to which I exhort you here, for which you should chiefly and above all things la­bor. As to the obtaining it, see what you are to do.

First, Demand it daily of God,1. Demand it. for he is the Author of it: Say to him fre­quently from the bottom of your Heart,Confige ti­more carnes meas, à judi­ciis enim tuis tremui, Psal. 118. O God, engrave thy Fear deeply in my Soul, that it may restrain me from ever offending thee.

Secondly,2. Have a great Sense of the Greatness of God. Conceive a great Apprehen­sion of the Greatness of God. He is the Sovereign Lord of all things, infinite in all his Perfections, in Majesty, in Wis­dom, in Goodness, in Power, in Justice. All Creatures adore him, the Angels them­selves tremble at the sight of his Gran­deur. All that is Great in the World is but an Atom before him; and as he hath created all things by one sole Word, he could destroy them all in one only Mo­ment.Non est si­milis tui Do­mine, magnus es tu, & mag­num nomen tuum in sortitudine; quis non timebit te ô Rex gentium? Jer. 10. O Immense God, there is none like unto thee, said a Prophet, thou art Great, and thy Name is Great, O King of Nati­ons, who will not fear thee?

Thirdly,3. Fear to dis­please God by sin. Fear above all things to displease God,Timor Do­mini expellit peccatum. Eccl. 5. and let that be the first and prin­cipal thing you regard in all your Actions, whether God be not therein offended.

4.4. Speak of God with Re­spect. When you speak of God, never speak of him but with a profound Respect; and endeavor to cause by your Example, that he never be spoken of otherwise in your Presence.

Of the Love of God.

IF the Greatness of God oblige us to fear and honor him with a profound Respect,The Love of God ought to be joyn'd with Fear. his Goodness engages us as much to love him. We must fear God by rea­son of his Greatness, which renders him infinitely Adorable; and we must love him because of his Goodness, which makes him infinitely Amiable; we must not se­parate these two things, Fear and Love.Timor Do­mini initium dilectionis. The Fear of God is the beginning of Love, as the Holy Scripture says, and Love is the perfection of Fear.Qui sine ti­more est non poterit jusci­ficari. Eccl. 25. Qui non dili­git manet in morte. 1 Joh. 3. He who is with­out Fear cannot be justifi'd, and he who Loves not, remains in Death.

We must then love God, dear Thotime; for how can it be that we should not love Goodness it self, and him who hath lov'd you first?We must begin betimes to love God. But you must love him betimes, and from your tender Years; you must begin that quickly which you must do all [Page 297]your Life, and during all Eternity. The Love of God is our Sovereign Happiness and last End.We are created for that End; God hath plac'd you in this World on no other Design than to love him, and that coming to know him for your Creator, you should render that which a Work ows to its Workman, a Creature to its Creator, a Child to his Father, that is, Love.And oblig'd thereto. And to oblige you the better thereunto, he hath added all imaginable Favors, having design'd you for the En­joyment of his Kingdom in Heaven, Re­deem'd you when you were lost, and Re­deem'd you by the Death of his only Son, Call'd you to the Grace of Christianity, Illuminated you with the Light of Faith, Sanctifi'd you by his Grace, Receiv'd you often into his Mercy after you had grie­vously offended him, and a thousand other Blessings hath be bestow'd upon you. O Theotime, how is it possible not to love a God who hath lov'd you so much!

Now there are two things in God for which he ought to be belov'd.Two Motives of the Love of God. The one is his Goodness, which he manifests unto us by all the Favors and Blessings he be­stows upon us. The other is the Goodness he possesses in himself, which makes him Sovereignly Amiable. For, if we might suppose a thing impossible, viz. That God had never shew'd us any Favor, yet he de­serv'd to be infinitely belov'd, by reason of the Sovereign Goodness, and infinite Perfections he enjoys in himself, which render him infinitely Amiable. Now when [Page 298]I say we must love God, I speak of both these two Loves, and I mean, that we must love him for the Benefits he hath bestow'd upon us, and not only for them, but also in consideration of his infinite Goodness, which renders him so lovely, that in the love of his Goodness consists the Eternal Happiness of both Men and Angels.

But take notice,The essential Condition of the Love of God. Theotime, that the Love of God to be real, ought to have one very particular Condition, which occurs not in any other Love: For it doth not suffice to love God as we love Creatures, but we must love him above all things, that is, more than all Creatures.Diliges Do­minum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo, ex tota anima tua, ex omni­bus viribus tuis & ex om­ni mente tua. Luc. 20. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, that is, more than all other things; so that you love nothing above him, as there is no­thing greater or more amiable than he; nor nothing equal to him, as there is no­thing which can match him.

And to speak briefly, the Love of God consists in preferring God before all things;Wherein the Love of God consists. before the Goods of the World, Pleasures, Honor, Friends, and Life it self; so that you must be prepar'd never to love these things to the prejudice of the Love you owe to God; and be resolv'd rather to lose them a thousand times, than to be wanting to the Obedience you are oblig'd to render unto him. It is in this preference of God before all things, wherein the essential Point of the Love of God consists; a Pre­ference without which it is impossible to love God, nor by consequence, to be in the State of Salvation.

O dear Theotime, you must then labor to acquire this so amiable a Love, and this so necessary a Preference, to engrave it deeply in your Heart: And to the end you be not deceiv'd therein, by taking, as very many do, apparent Love for the real.The Practice of the love of God. See the principal Acts you must practise there­in, by which you may know whether you love God truly, or no.

First,1. Have a hor­ror for Sin. Above all things fear and have a horror of Sin, because it is displeasing to God, and infinitely opposite to his Good­ness, and be resolv'd never to commit a Sin upon any account whatsoever.

Secondly,2. Avoid ve­nial Sins. Fly venial Sins the most you can, because they displease God; and al­tho' they destroy not Love, yet they diminish and weaken it, and dispose you to fall into mortal Sin.

Thirdly,3. Labor to get Vertue. Labor to acquire the Vertues so necessary for you, and which he exacts from you. It is the property of Love, to desire to please him whom one loves.

Fourthly,4. Advance the Service of God. Wish often that God should be serv'd and lov'd as he deserves. Be trou­bled when you see him offended, hinder as much as you can that he may not be dis­pleas'd, and endeavor by your Words and Example to move others to love him.

But chiefly, Theotime, 5. Begin betimes to love God. practise these things in good time, and begin from your Youth to love him whom you must never cease to love. At whatsoever time you be­gin to love him, it will be always too late, and you will always have reason to express [Page 300]that Grief which S. Augustin did;Sero te ama­vi ô pulchri­tudo tam an­tiqua & tam nova, sero te amavi. S. Aug. Conf. lib. 10. cap. 27. I have lov'd thee too late, O ancient Beauty, I have lov'd thee too late, O Eternal Goodness. De­mand of him frequently the Grace to love him as you ought, and daily say to him from your Heart those excellent Words of David, Quid enim mihi est in coelo & à te quid volui su­per terram Deus cordis mei & pars mea, Deus in aeternum. Psal. 72. O God, whether it be in Hea­ven or Hell, I love nothing but thee; thou art the God of my Heart, and the Part which I eternally pretend to.

Of the Love of Parents.

HE who fears God, Qui timet Deum hono­rat Parentes, & quasi Do­minis serviet his qui se ge­nuerunt. Eccl. 3. says the Wiseman, honors his Parents, and will serve as his Masters those who gave him Birth. Yes, Theotime, if you have the Fear of God in your Heart, you will honor your Parents, and all those to whom he hath given Au­thority over you, because he desires it and commands it;The Fear of God makes us honor our Pa­rents. Honor thy Father and thy Mother. And if you honor them not, you have neither the Fear nor Love of God.

For to contemn a thing so holy, which Nature her self inspires you with, & which God hath so strictly commanded you, is not to have the Fear of God. There is no Menace with which he hath not threat­ned those Children who are wanting to their Duty.Qui affligit Patrem & su­git Matrem ignominiosus erit & infoe­lix. Prov. 19. He says, that He who afflicts his Father, and flies from the discreet Admo­nitions [Page 301]of his Mother, will become infamous and miserable. Qui male­dicit patri & matri extin­guetur lucer­na ejus in me­diis tenebris. Prov. 20. He who curses his Father or Mother shall perish, his Light, that is, his Life, shall be extinct in Darkness, that is, Death.Oculum qui subsannat pa­trem & qui despicit par­tum matris suae, suffodi­unt eum corvi de torrenti­bus & commedant eum filii aquilae. Prov. 36. The Eye which mocks his Fa­ther, and which despises the Mother who brought him forth, deserves to be pull'd out by the Crows, and eaten by young Eagles. Quam malae est famae qui derelinquit patrem, & est maledictus à Deo qui exaspe­rat matrem. Eccl. 3. He who abandons his Father, hath lost his Honor before Men; and he who vexes his Mother, is cursed by God. I wish these Menaces were deeply engraven in the Minds of all Children, who forget never so little their Duty towards their Parents.

Add to these Threats the rigorous Law God had establish'd in the old Testament against wicked Children.The Severity of the Old Testa­ment. I shall cite it all entire, that you may read it atten­tively.

If it happen, says the Law, that a Father hath a rebellious and disobedient Child, who will not submit himself to the Commands of his Father and Mother, and they have chastis'd him, and he would not obey, then shall his Father and his Mother take him, and bring him where they keep Judgment, and there they shall make their Complaints in this manner: This our Son is stubborn and disobedient, and will not obey our Admonition, and seeks no­thing but Debauches Lapidibus obruet eum omnis popu­lus civitatis & morietur, ut auferatis maium de medio vestri, universus Israel audiens pertimescat. Deut. 21. Then, adds the Law, he shall be stoned of the People of the [Page 302]City to Death; so you shall take away the Evil from you, that all may hear it, and fear.

This is the severe Law God had Esta­blish'd against rebellious Children. And altho' it was not made in the Evangelical Law, yet they ought no less to fear his Choler and Vengeance, whereof but too many Effects daily appear, by the visible Punishment he sends sooner or later to Children who fail in so holy and inviola­ble a Duty. This Sin is one of those which God ordinarily punishes in this Life; and there are scarce any wicked Children to whom some Punishment of God doth not befall in this Life, which is often the be­ginning of an Eternal Chastisement.

But let us leave these Motives of terror and fear, to stubborn and obstinate Spirits, who are not mov'd to their Duty by Rea­son and Love; as for you, Theotime, who have a Design to serve God with all your Heart, these Menaces are not necessary; and to perswade you to render to your Parents all the Respect you owe them, it suffices to tell you, that that is reasonable which God desires. These are the two Motives by which the Apostle S. Paul con­vinc'd Children of this great Obligation.Filii, obe­dite parenti­bus vestris in Domino, hoc enim justum est. Ephes. 3. Children, said he, obey your Parents, be­cause it is just; Filii, obe­dite parenti­bus, per om­nia, hoc enim placitum est Domino. Co­loss. 3. Children, obey your Pa­rents in all things, because it pleaseth God. Render then to your Parents, Theotime, the [Page 303]Honor you owe them, considering 1. That it is just and reasonable; 2. That God will have it so: God, I say, whose Will ought to be the Rule of our Actions, and whose good Pleasure is the most powerful Motive to a generous Soul.

Now the Honor you ought to give to your Parents comprehends Four princi­pal things, which you owe them, viz. Children owe Four things to their Parents. Re­spect, Love, Obedience, and Assistance.

First, Bear them a great Respect,1. Respect. con­sidering them as those from whom next to God, you have receiv'd your Being. Have a great care of ever despising them for any Reason whatsoever, neither interiorly, by any thought of Contempt, nor exterior­ly, by any Words or disesteeming Actions. Receive with respect their Instructions, Admonitions, and Reprehensions.Audi, fili, disciplinam patris tui, & ne dimittas legem matris tuae. Prov. 1. Stultus irridet disciplinam patris sui, qui autem custo­dit increpati­ones, astutior fiet. Prov. 15. Heark­en, my Son, says the Wiseman, to the Instru­ctions of your Father, and depart not from the Law of your Mother: For, as he says afterwards, it is the part of a Fool to mock at the Correction of his Father; he who makes his advantage of it will become more wise.

Secondly,2. Love. You ought to love them with a singular Love.Honora pa­trem tuum & gemitus ma­tris tuae ne ob­liviscaris: me­mento quoni­am nisi per il­los natus non fuisses, & re­tribue illis quomodo & illi tibi. Eccl. 7. Remember, says the Wiseman, that you receiv'd from them your Birth, and render your Thanks for it. Now you cannot perform this any other way, but by loving them. Yet take notice, that this Love must not only be a natural and sensible Love; it must also be a rational Love, and according to God. To love them according to God, you must love [Page 304]them because God commands it, and as he commands it, that is, in such a manner that you love principally their Spiritual Good and Salvation, and endeavor to pro­cure it by your Prayers, and all other Means which lies in your power.

Thirdly,3. Obedience. Obey their Commands, and be ready to perform their Will; but obey as S. Paul prescribes, In Domino, In God, that is, because God will have it, casting your Eye chiefly upon God, who commands you by them; for it is God who commands you to obey them, and when you obey them, you obey God; as on the contrary, not o-obeying them, you disobey God, except they command you something against the Honor of God or your Good; for in these two Cases you owe them not your Obedi­ence. Nevertheless, you must be very dis­creet in this Occasion, and take Advice of able Persons, that you may not be deceiv'd.

Fourthly,Fili suscipe senectam pa­tris tui, & non contristes eum in vita illius: etsi defecerit sensus, veniam da & ne sper­nas eum in virtute tua. Eccl. 3. You must assist them in their Necessities, as in their Distempers, in their Poverty, in their old Age, and generally in all their Temporal and Spiritual Neces­sities. To leave them in these Occasions, is a very great Crime, which cries to God for Vengeance.

I fine, Theotime, to keep you laways within the Bounds of your Duty towards your Parents, set often before your Eyes, two very contrary Examples.Two contrary Examples. Look up­on the misfortunate Absolon, who having violated in all manner of ways the Duty of a Child towards his Father, found at [Page 305]the End the just Chastisement of his Crime, in the dreadful and miserable Death which we have recounted above.Part 1. Ch. 6. And on the other side, consider often the ad­mirable Example not of a Man, but of the Son of God himself, who being Incarnate, and made Man for our Salvation, would be subject and obedient to his most holy Mother and St. Joseph, Erat subditus illis. Luc. 2. until the Age of Thirty Years. He who was the Sovereign Master of all things, would be subject, to teach by his Example all Children the Honor they ought to render to their Pa­rents.

Of other Persons whom young Men ought to honor.

NExt to your Parents there are other Persons you ought particularly to honor.

1. You must honor those who represent them, as Tutors, and those who have a Charge of your Person.

2. Your Masters, whether Particular or Publick, from whom you receive In­struction for Vertue and Learning. You ought to honor them by so much more, as they represent and supply the Place of Fathers; and that the Goods you receive from them, which are the Goods of the Mind, that is Vertue and Science, surpass [Page 306]all worldly Riches. And as you ow to your Parents Respect, Love, Obedience, and Assistance; you ow also to your Ma­sters Respect, Love, Obedience, and Ac­knowledgment.

3.Obedite Prae­positis vestris, & subjacete eis. Ipsi enim pervigilant quasi ratio­nem pro ani­mabus vestris reddituri. Heb. 13. You ought to honor very particu­larly your Spiritual Fathers, as your Pa­stors, and all those who Instruct you in the Way of Salvation, and chiefly your Ghostly Father; you ought to respect him much, regarding him as an Officer of God, love him as the Minister of your Salvati­on, obey him and follow his Councils, in which young People are very much defe­ctive.

4.Honora De­um ex tota a­nima tua & honorifica sa­cerdotes. Eccl. 7. Coram cano capite assur­ge, & honora personam se­nis. Lev. 19. Adolescentes subditi estote senioribus. 1 Pet. 3. Time Domi­num, fili mi, & Regem. Prov. 24. Deum timete, Regem honorificate. 1 Pet. 2. Omnis anima po­testatibus sublimioribus subdita sit, non est enim potestas nisi à Deo. Rom. 13. Honor all the Persons that are Ve­nerable, either for Dignity, as Priests, whom the Scripture commands you to honor; Or for their Age, as old Men, to whom young People should shew much Respect; Or for their Vertue: for if you honor God, you will also honor them who serve him: And finally, Men Constituted in Publick Authority, as the King, and Magistrates, whom God commands you to honor, as representing his Place, and whom he hath Establish'd for his Mini­sters in the Temporal Government of Men, and to whom every one ows Re­spect, Love, Obedience, and Fidelity.

Of Tractableness.

THIS is one of the first,Tractableness necessary. and chiefest Vertue of Youth, which being blind, subject to many Faults, and not able to conduct it self, hath an absolute necessity of being guided by others more knowing, and submitting it self to their Conduct; and this Submission is call'd Tractable­ness.

It is a Vertue which makes us love,What it is. wil­lingly receive, search after, and put in practice the Instructions, Counsels, Re­prehensions, and Exhortations to Good. O what an excellent Vertue, Theotime, Its Commenda­tions. is this, which we may call the Ornament of Youth, the Instrument of good Education, the Mother of all Vertues in young Per­sons, the Source of all Good, the Cause of their Salvation. A tractable Mind is capable of all Good, as an untractable Mind is subject to all Wickedness. We have spoken sufficiently of this Vertue, and the opposite Vice, in Part 1. Chap. 3. Read attentively and often what we have said, and labor to obtain this Vertue, as that on which your Happiness depends.

Of Obedience.

OBedience is the Daughter of Tracta­bleness:Obedience ne­cessary. A tractable Mind renders it self obedient to the Will of others, who have any Authority over it. It is a Ver­tue necessary for Youth, a Fundamental Vertue, and without which one can never arrive at any solid Piety, which made the Wiseman say,Mens justi me­ditabitur obe­dientiam. Prov. 15.28. that The Mind of the Just will meditate Obedience, because it is a most necessary and effectual Means to acquire Vertue, to which it aspires.

It is not only necessary for Youth, but also so convenient for that Age, that it is always proper, and as it were natural. A disobedient Child is a Species of a Mon­ster: And an ancient Author numbring up the Disorders which are found in the World,St. Cyprian. puts in the third rank, a disobe­dient Child, which he says is a Disorder which brings many others after it.

Love then,Practice. Theotime, this Vertue, so a­greeable to your Age, and besides so ne­cessary and so powerful to make you real­ly vertuous all the rest your Life. Obey humbly and willingly your Parents, your Masters, and all those who have Authority over you.

I say, obey humbly and willingly, because it is not enough to obey, but you must o­bey well: A constrain'd Obedience, yielded [Page 309]unwillingly by fear or force, is a slavish Obedience, which hath no Merit, nor any shadow of Vertue.

True Obedience proceeds from the ac­knowledgment of ones Duty, and a desire to please God in performing it well. The First makes it humble, the Second makes it voluntary, prompt, and facil.

You must obey thus, if you desire your Obedience should be vertuous and agreea­ble to God. And by obeying thus, you learn in good time not to do your own proper Will, but that of others. Proper Will, which is ordinarily the cause of the De­struction of Men, and chiefly of young Per­sons, is an ill Guide, which leads them into Precipices, and makes them fall into ma­ny Misfortunes. O Theotime, the Wiseman says,Vir obediens loquetur vi­ctorias. Prov. 21.28. that The obedient Man will recount his Victories. If you obey well in your ten­der Age, you will recount one day the Vi­ctories you have gain'd over your most dangerous Enemy, with your own pro­per Will; you will know how much this Vertue was useful, and praise God for it all your Life.

Of Chastity.

TRactableness and Obedience hinder the Disorders of the Mind, and Cha­stity those of the Body.

It is a Vertue which entirely flies the Pleasures of the Flesh,What Chastity is. and studies to stifle the Thoughts, Desires, and Feelings of unclean Delight, because they displease God.

It is necessary for all Men,How necessary. but parti­cularly for young Persons, who being more susceptible of immodest Pleasures, have a most particular need of this Vertue, as we have shewn in Part 3.

But as there is no Age for which it is more necessary than for Youth,How conveni­ent. so there is none to which it is more convenient and advantagious. I would to God, Theotime, you, and all those of your Age, could com­prehend the Beauty of this Vertue, with the Ornament and Profit it brings you.

If Chastity renders Men like Angels,It makes them like Angels. according to the Judgment of the holy Fa­thers cited above in Part 2. because it makes them imitate the Purity of the An­gels in a frail Body: It is chiefly in young Persons where this Effect is found true, because their Age being less corrupted by Sin, their Chastity approaches nearer to the Purity of those celestial Spirits.

If Chastity doth partake something of the Glory of Martyrdom,And Martyrs. according to the Sense of S. Jerom, Habet & pu­dicitia servata Martyrium saum. S. Hier. Epist. ad De­m [...]r. by reason of the rude Combats it sustains, which sometimes are no less than those of Torments. It is chief­ly to the Chastity of young Persons to whom that Glory doth appertain,Quem tor­menta non vi­cerant vola­ptas supera­bat. Idem in vita B. Hila­rion. Adolescentia multa corpo­ris bella susti­net. Idem. Acrior pugna juvenum. S. Aug. Ser. 23. de verbis Do­mini. Martyrium sine sanguine triplex est. Parcitas in ubertate quam habuit David & Job. Largitas in paupertate, quam exer­cuit Tobias & vidua. Castitas in juventute, qua usus est Joseph in Aegypto. S. Bern. in Sententiis. because the Combats they suffer are ordinarily more violent and more frequent than those [Page 311]of others, which made S. Bernard say, that besides the Martyrdom which is undergone by the Effusion of Blood, there are yet Three others, that is, Frugality practis'd in Plenty, whereof David and Job shew'd a Pattern. Liberality in Poverty exercis'd by Tobias, and the Widow in the Gospel, and Chastity in Youth preserv'd by Joseph in Egypt.

Lastly, Theotime, those excellent Com­mendations,Pudicitia flos morum, honor corporum, de­cor sexuum, fundamentum sanctitatis, praesagium omnis bonae mentis. S. Cyp. de bono pudici­tiae. In malevolam animam non introibit sa­pientia, nec habitabit in corpore sub­dito peccatis. Sap. 1. which the Fathers give to Chastity, which they call the Flower and Ornament of Manners, The Honor of the Body, The Groundwork of Sanctity, The Presage of all sort of Vertues, chiefly be­long to young Men: For it is true, that Chastity in young Persons, is a great Foun­dation for Vertue, and all manner of Good may be expected from a chast Youth: Because, as the Spirit of God cannot dwell in impure Hearts; so it takes delight to inhabit in chast Souls, and to heap upon them all sorts of Favors.

Ruffin recounts to this purpose, that St. Gregory of Nazianzen being yet young, had a Vision of two Ladies, who appear'd to him endow'd with excellent Beauties; and as the chast young Man had a trouble to behold them, they said to him, Young Man, let not our Presence afflict you, we are [Page 312]two Sisters well known to you, the one of us is call'd Wisdom, the other Chastity; we are come to visit you, because you have prepar'd an agreeable Habitation for us in your Soul.

Thus, Theotime, Chastity is inseparable from Wisdom, and it attracts the Divine Grace and Benediction upon young Souls that addict themselves to it.

Labor then,Practice. Theotime, to obtain this Vertue, which you ought to esteem the Ornament and Happiness of your Youth, you will find the Means to acquire it, and conserve it, in Part 3. Now as to the Practice of this Vertue, remember that it may be violated many ways, by Thoughts, by Words, by Desires, and by dishonest Actions; And to be Chast, you must be so not only in Actions, but in Thoughts, De­sires, and Words, and in all that may ne­ver so little wound Purity.

Of Shamefac'dness.

AS Trees in producing their Fruits, produce at the same time Leaves to preserve them against the Injuries of the Air; So Charity placing Chastity in a Soul, brings forth also Shamefac'dness there, to preserve it from any thing that may hurt it. It is impossible to have Chastity without Shamefac'dness, and Shamefac'dness serves very much, and is [Page 313]most necessary for the conservation of Chastity.

Chastity abhors the Thoughts, Desires,Wherein it con­sists. Est verecun­dia pudicitiae comes, cujus societate ca­stitas ipsa tu­tior est, bonus enim regendae castitatis pu­dor est comes; qui si se pro­tendat ad ea quae prima pe­ricula sunt, pudicitiam te­merari non si­nit. S. Amb. 1. Offic. 18. and Feelings of unclean Pleasures, as we have said: And Shamefac'dness removes all those exterior things which may be either the Causes or Effects of these Thoughts, Desires, or Feelings, as immo­dest Words, unchast Looks, lascivious Gestures, Kisses, and all other things which may either near or afar off wound Chasti­ty. Shamefac'dness then is a Vertue which sets all these things at a distance from it, and which cannot permit them neither in it self nor others, without blushing at them. Now this Vertue agrees particu­larly with Youth.

For as St. Bernard observes very well, altho' we ought to labor in every Age for this Vertue, which is the Ornament of all Ages, yet it appears with much more splendor in Youth.Quid amabi­lius verecun­do adolescen­te? quàm pul­chra haec, & quam splendi­da gemma morum in vi­ta & vultu a­dolescentis? Quam vera & minime du­bia bonae nun­tia spei, bonae indolis index? nullum aeque manifestum indicium co­lumbinae sim­plicitatis, & ideo etiam te­stis innocen­tiae. Lampas est pudicae mentis jugiter lucens, ut ni­hil in ea tur­pe vel inde­corum residere attentet, quod illis non illico prodat. Ita expun­ctrix malorum & propugnatrix puritatis intactae, specialis gloria conscientiae, & famae custos, vitae Deus, virtutis Sedes, virtutum primitiae, naturae laus, & insigne totius honesti. S. Bern. Serm. ult. in Can. What is there more amiable, says he, than a modest young Man? How beautiful and rich an Ornament is Shamefac'dness in the Life and Visage of a young Man? What a certain Presage of a religious Hope is it in a Child, and an assured Sign of a Mind born for some great Good? There is no more apparent Mark of a Dove­like Simplicity, nor a more evident Testimony of a pure Innocence. It is the Lamp of a chast Soul, which shines continually to hinder that nothing foul or indecent enter into the Mind, which it doth not immediately discover. And thus it banishes Sin from the Soul, and con­serves [Page 314]Purity. It is the Glory of the Consci­ence, the Guardian of Honor, the Ornament of Life, the Seat of Wisdom and Piety, the First-fruits of Vertue, the Honor of Nature, and the Mark of all Purity. Weigh well all these Commendations one after ano­ther, and judg of the Account you ought to make of this excellent Vertue.

The Vice opposite to this Vertue is Im­pudence and Shamelessness, which blushes at nothing. It is a Vice as much odious in young Men, as Shamefac'dness is amiable. It is the Sign and Effect of an ungracious Nature, and it is no less the Origin of ma­ny Sins, than Shamefac'dness is the Mother of Many Vertues.

Endeavor to acquire this excellent Ver­tue,Practice. Theotime, and content not your self to fly from the Sins of Impurity, but fly also all things that may approach it, and may in the least wound Chastity, as all truly chast Souls do. It is reported of S. Ber­nard, that he had so great a Shamefac'd­ness in his younger Years,Example. that when any one chanc'd to speak an unseemly Word in his Presence, he blush'd as if one had given him a Box on the Ear: You will find the Practice of this Vertue before in Part 3.

Of Modesty.

NEXT to Shamefac'dness, Modesty is also absolutely necessary for young People.Wherein it con­sists. Shamefac'dness hath for its Object the removing all exterior things contrary to Chastity, which it doth not permit ei­ther in it self or others. And Modesty regulates and directs all things that may be disorder'd or indecent in the Exterior of the Person, as in the Sight, in the Walk, in the Actions, in the Habits, in the Words, and in all those things whose Irregula­rity is a Sign and an Effect of an unchast Mind.

This Vertue is singularly desirable in a young Man,The Mark of a wise and ver­tuous Mind. because it is a certain Mark of an interior Vertue, and of a wise Mind, and proper for Piety. The Mind is known by its Actions, and the Wisdom of a Man by his Exterior.Sapientia hominis lucet in vultu ejus. Eccl. 18. Ex usu cog­noscitur vir, & ab occursu faciei cogno­scitur sensa­tus, amictus corporis, & risus dentium, & ingressus hominis enun­tiant de illo. Eccl. 19. Habitus mentis in corporis statu cernitur, vox quaedam est animi corporis motus. S. Ambr. lib. 1. Offic. 18. Wisdom, says the Sacred Scripture, shines in the Countenance of the Wise. Man is known by the Eyes, and a well regulated Mind by its Visage. The Habit of the Body, Laughter, and Walking, discover what a Man is within. Which made S. Ambrose say, That the Disposition of the Mind is known by the Posture of the Body, and that the exterior Motion is a Species of Voice by which the Mind discovers it self.

So that, Theotime, if you have a wise and well regulated Mind, it may appear by the Modesty of your exterior Behavior; but if you be Immodest and Disorder'd without, it is a certain Sign that you have a light, ill govern'd, humorous and indis­creet Mind, which is not susceptible of any serious Thought, and which permits it self to be carry'd away with vain and im­pertinent Imaginations. And this Disor­der in the Exterior, will be a very ill Sign for the present, and a bad Presage of what will one day follow.

St. Gregory of Nazianzen, A remarkable Example. in his first Oration against Julian the Apostat, re­counts, that having Study'd with him in his Youth, he had from that time judg'd of him, that he would be very wicked, seeing his Immodesty, and the Disorder of his Actions. One might see, says he, in him many things which promis'd nothing of good, a Head always moving, a wandring and fu­rious Eye, his Feet never standing still, a con­temptible Visage, an insolent Laughter, a stammering Speech; you might hear him ma­king impertinent Demands, and more foolish Answers: In fine, he says, I judg'd from that time what he would be afterwards. And after I had attentively consider'd him, O quale ma­lum Romana terra nutrit. I said to many of my Friends, O what a Monster doth Rome breed up in this Man.

To practise well this Vertue,Practice. so necessary for your Age, see what you must do.

1.Modesty in ex­terior Actions. Endeavor as much as you can, that nothing of Immodesty appear in your [Page 317]Looks, your Walk, your Gesture, have a serious, sweet, and affable Countenance, a reserv'd Sight, a modest Behaviour, which may relish of a wise and well-bred Mind. Study to be such in the Company of whatsoever Persons you be; with Supe­riors, by reason of the Respect you ow them; with your Equals, or Inferiors, be­cause you must give them Edification and good Example; even when you are alone, since you are always in the Presence of God. A wise and well regulated Mind is always modest wheresoever it is; because it is not modest to please Men, which would be a pure Vanity, but to please God who sees it.Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus ho­minibus. Do­minibus. Do­minus enim prope est. Phil. 4. Let your Modesty be known to all Men, says the Apostle, being God is near.

2.Modesty in the Church. You ought chiefly to shew a parti­cular Modesty in the Church. It is the House of God, and a Place appointed for Prayer, and to adore him: You must en­ter there with a great Respect.Custodi pe­dem tuum in­grediens do­mum Dei. Eccl. 4. Domum tuam decet sancti­tudo. Psal. 91. Visitabo om­nem qui ar­roganter in­greditur su­per limen, qui complet do­mum Domini iniquitate. Sophon. 1. Have a care of your self, says the Wiseman, when you enter into the House of God. You must remain there with a great Modesty, and in an humble and devout Posture, agreeable to the Sanctity of the Place. To enter there as into a profane House, without Respect or Restraint, to continue there without Modesty, Gazing about, Speak­ing without necessity, Laughing with o­thers; to be there in an undecent Posture, Leaning unhandsomly upon the Seats, Kneeling upon one Knee, and other like [Page 318]Irreverences, are Sins which offend God more than the generality of People ima­gin. Judge by this, Theotime, what we must say of those who commit Insolences, entertain immodest Thoughts, and use un­chast Looks in the Church, not being a­sham'd to carry their Crimes into the midst of the Sanctuary, and offend God in the Place Consecrated to his Adoration. It is a Crime which God detests much by the Mouth of his Prophets. AndAusus sum etiam in cele­britate solem­nitatum tua­rum, inter pa­rietes Eccle­siae tuae concu­piscere, & a­gere negotium procurandi fructus mortis, unde me verberasti gra­vibus poenis, sed nihil ad culpam meam. Aug. 3. Confes. S. Augustin in his Confessions, amongst the Sins of his Life, expresses a Sorrow for this as for one of his greatest, for which he declares he was punish'd by God, tho' not according to his merit.

3.Modesty in Habit. Modesty consists also in the Gar­ments, wherein you must avoid two things; Superfluous Ornaments, which discover a vain and light Mind; but much more undecent Clothes, and such as serve to attract Impurity. Be Clothed then mo­destly, according to your Condition, with­out seeking other Ornaments than such as Seemliness permits.In vestitu ne glorieris un­quam, quoni­am mirabilia opera altissimi solius. Eccl. 11. Glory not in your Habit, says the Wiseman, it is a vain and impertinent Glory. Nec affecta­tae sordes nec exquisitae munditiae Christiano conveniunt. S. Hier. Epist. ad Eustoch. S. Jerom says excel­lently well, That a Christian ought not to seek to be affectedly, or too curiously Clothed. But above all, avoid the Ornaments which may prejudice Shamefac'dness, whether in you, or in those who see you. The same [Page 319]S. Jerom calls young People, who Curl and Trick up themselves wantonly, Ve­nena pudicitiae, The Poison of Modesty. O, Theotime, if you have a truly chast Heart, you will fly all these Ornaments which can serve you to no good End, and which may much prejudice either you, or those who see you.Pudicitia semper orna­tur solo pudo­re, bene sibi conscia de pul­chritudine, si improbis dis­plicet. Nihil ornamenti quaerit: Decus suum ipsa est. S. Cypr. lib. 1. de bono pudicitiae. Chastity (says St. Cyprian) hath no other Ornaments than Shamefac'd­ness; and she accounts her self to be sufficiently beautiful, when she displeaseth the Wicked; she seeks not to be Adorn'd, being her own Ornament her self.

To acquire this Vertue of Modesty, be careful to practise these Means. 1.Means to ac­quire Modesty. De­mand it often of God. 2. Be willing to be Admonish'd when you do any Action which is not very modest, and procure a Friend who may advertise you of it. 3. When you hear others Immodesty blam'd, take notice of it to have a care of your self. 4. Converse often with wise and modest Persons, observe their Modesty to imitate it. 5. Fly the Com­pany of light Minds, and of such as are irregular in their outward Behavior.

Of Modesty in Words.

MOdesty consists also in Words. It is a great Vertue, and principally in young Men, to know how to speak dis­creetly; for,Ante sermo­nem ne laudes virum haec est enim tentatio hominis. Eccl. 27. In lingua Sa­pientia digno­scitur. Eccl. 4. as the Wiseman says, The Wisdom of a Man is known by his Speech. Now to speak wisely Two things are re­quir'd. 1. To speak nothing ill or im­pertinent. 2. To speak good things at a fit time, that is, when and how one ought.

1. Never utter a wanton or indecent Word.Fornicatio & omnis im­munditia, nec nominetur in vobis, sicut decet sanctos. Ephes. 5. Qui loquitur iniqua non po­terit latere, nec praeteriet illum corripi­ens judicium. Sap. 1. The Apostle S. Paul forbids Chri­stians so much as to name impure things, how much more to speak of them with Pleasure, or Danger of our Neighbor. He who speaks wicked things, says the Wise­man, cannot conceal himself, neither shall the Judgment of Reproach let him escape. Fly as the Plague, all Coversation of dishonest things, which are really the plague and corruption of good Mannners, and which cause a vast number of Sins in those who discourse of them, and in those who heark­en to them. Fly also all dubious Expres­sions, or such as incline to a double Sense, which may give others occasion of impure Thoughts. And lastly, Avoid all Speeches or immodest Injuries, which Men have so frequently in their Mouths, and are not sufferable amongst the Debauch'd, much less in you.

2. In good or indifferent Discourses be not too ready or light in speaking, but hearken before you speak. There are some Humors which are always the first in Talking, and the last in holding their Tongues; who meddle with every thing, interrupt others, and speak of things they understand not. It is the Sign of an ill­bred, light, indiscreet, and sometimes of a proud Mind. The Wiseman says excel­lently well,Vidisti ho­minem velo­cem ad lo­quendum, stul­titia magis sperandum est quam illius correctio. Prov. 20. When you see a Man free in Talking; you must expect from him more folly than Wisdom.

To regulate well your Speech, see the Maxims you must observe.

1. Speak little, and hear much.Rules for Speaking. It is the chief Mark of a wise Mind, to hearken to others, and speak little. The Scripture says, thatQui mode­ratur sermo­nes suos do­ctus est & pru­dens. Stultus quoque si ta­cuerit, sapi­ens reputabi­tur, & si com­presserit labia sua, intelli­gens. Prov. 17. Utinam tace­retis ut putaremini sapientes. Job 1.13. Sit autem omnis homo velox ad audiendum, tardus vero ad loquendum. Jac. 1. He who governs well his Speech, is wise, and advised; And that Silence is so great a Sign of Wisdom, that When it is found in a Man of small Ʋnderstanding, it makes him esteem'd Discreet. I speak not of a dull and melancholy Silence, which springs from Stupidity and Heaviness; but of a wise Silence, which is observ'd by Modesty, that it may give ear to others, and speak in a proper time.

In Conversation, when another speaks,How we must behave our selves in Con­versation. have a care of Three things. 1. Not to speak before you have heard what he says. 2. Not to interrupt him who speaks. [Page 322]3. Not to be too hasty to Talk, when something you understand not is well spo­ken of.

There are three Precepts of the Wise­man.Priusquam inaudias, ne respondeas verbum; & in medio sermo­num ne adji­cias loqui. Eccl. 11. Before you have heard, answer no­thing. Speak not in the midst of a Discourse. Learn before you speak. For, as it is said in the Proverbs, Antequam loquaris, disce. Eccles. 18. Qui prius respondeat quam audiat, stul­tum se esse demonstrat & confusione dignum. Prov. 18.24. He who speaks before he understands, shews that he is unwise, and wor­thy of Confusion.

When you shall be in some Honorable Company, observe what the Wiseman ap­points you to do;Adolescens, loquere in tua causa vix cum necesse fuerit. Si bis interro­gatus fueris habeat caput responsum tuum. In mul­tis esto quasi inscius, audi­re tacens simul & quaerens. Eccl. 12. Speak little, and only when you are asked, and let your Answer be short. Seem not to be too knowing, but in the most part of Conversations comport your self as if you understood nothing of the thing which is treated. And this not by Dissi­mulation but by Modesty; hearken to o­thers being silent, and ask to learn of them.

Of other Vices of the Tongue, and particu­larly of Swearing.

BEsides wicked and impertinent Di­scourses, and a Vanity in Talking, there are also many other Vices of the [Page 323]Tongue, which Christian Modesty ought carefully to retrench; the first whereof is Swearing.

To be addicted to Swearing is a very vicious Quality, especially in young Peo­ple. I speak not of Oaths made by Re­ligion, to assure a Truth when sufficient Necessity requires, a Necessity which sel­dom happens to young Persons; but of those Oaths so common amongst Christi­ans, where the adorable Name of God is employ'd and taken in vain, in the least Anger, or first Impatience, and sometimes by a setled Judgment from a detestable Custom of Swearing by the Name of God in all manner of Occasions.

This Sin is one of the wickedest Habits a Man can contract; For,

1. It is a Contempt of God,Sanctum & terribile no­men ejus. Psal. 110. Non assumes nomen Domi­ni Dei tui in vanum. Exod. 20, to bear so little Respect for his holy Name, which all Creatures adore, and whose Sanctity makes all the Angels to tremble; and this notwithstanding the express Prohibition God hath made of it, Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.

2. It is a notable Outrage offer'd to his Son Jesus-Christ, to treat with so much Irreverence the precious Death he suffer'd for our Redemption, and the adorable Blood he shed for our Salvation. An Out­rage which is no less than that he receiv'd by the Cruelty of his Executioners. He was Scourged (says St. Augustin) with the Rods of the Jews, and he is now Whipp'd by the blasphemous Tongues of wicked Christians. [Page 324]And they sin no less who blaspheme Jesus Christ reigning in Heaven, than those who blasphem'd him when he walk'd upon Earth.

3.The Cause of many Sins. This Vice causes many other Sins to be committed: For besides that there is no Sin multiply'd like Swearing, it draws the Curse of God upon those who are ac­custom'd to it, by which they are aban­don'd to their Passions,Vir multum jurans reple­bitur iniqui­tate. Eccl. 25. and to the Occa­sions of Sin; For this reason the Wise­man said, that He who Sweare often, shall be fill'd with Iniquity.

4.It is hard to be corrected. This Vice is very hard to be cor­rected, tho' never so little rooted; it in­creases still with Age, and becomes at length incapable of remedy, as those who are subject to it do daily misfortunately experience.

Lastly,The Sin of the Devil. It suffices to say, that this Sin is the Sin of the Devils, who are pleas'd in nothing but in abusing the holy Name of God: And it is a horrible thing, that Christians, who ought to Praise God upon Earth as the Angels Praise him in Heaven, should offer him here the same Injuries as the Devils vomit out against him in Hell.

O Theotime, Blasphemers Punishment. Qui blasphe­maverit no­men Domini morte moria­tur. Lev. 24. Fly this detestable Sin, a­bominable before God and Men, odious in all manner of Persons, but principally in young People. Remember that the ancient Law condemn'd Blasphemers to Death, and St. Paul deliver'd over to the Devils two Christians culpable of this Crime.Ut discant nou blasphe­mare 1 Tim. [...]. S. Greg. [...]e. 4. Di [...]l. cap. 18. To teach them, says he, not to blaspheme. And St. Gregory relates, how a Child ac­custom'd [Page 325]to Swear in his Impatiences by the Name of God, was seis'd by a mortal Distemper, and assaulted by malignant Spirits, which caus'd him to depart this Life in his Fathers Arms, who being too indulgent in Correcting him, had bred up in this Child a great Sinner for Hell, as the same Saint observes.

The Remedy of this Sin,Remedy. when one has never so little a Habit or Inclination to it, is to fly the Causes, as Anger, Plays of Hazard, wicked Company, and all other things, which every one knows to be to them an occasion of Swearing. But above all, it is a powerful, and even necessary Remedy, to impose upon ones self some rigorous Punishment for every time he shall fall into this Sin, as some Alms, some Prayers to be perform'd the same Day, some Fasting to be observ'd soon after, or some other painful Action.

Fly also all sorts of Oaths or Impreca­tions, and certain Fashions of Speaking, which not being Oaths, are Dispositions to Swear upon Occasions. Christian Modesty requires, that we should not Swear at all, according to that holy Precept of our Sa­viour;Ego autem dico vobis non jurare omni­no; sit autem sermo vester, est, est, non, non; Quod autem his abundantius est, a malo est. Mat. 5. I say, Swear not at all, and let your Words be yea and nay, what is said besides this, comes from the Devil.

Of Detraction.

Detraction is another Sin of the Tongue which you ought not only to avoid, but abhor.

To Detract,What Detra­ction is. is to report of another a Sin able to defame him, which he hath not committed, or else a Sin which he hath committed, but is not known or publick; for as long as the Sin of our Neighbor is secret, to reveal it to them who knew it not, is to do him an Injury.

Detraction is sometimes committed out of Malice,It is done two ways. as by Hatred, Revenge, Envy, or Design to hurt our Neighbor. Some­times by Indiscretion and Lightness of Mind, and by an Inclination one has to speak of the Evil he hath heard, or knows of another, which is too common amongst young People.

Altho' the first manner of Detraction be most criminal, the second nevertheless is not without Sin; for it always takes a­way the Reputation of our Neighbor, it obliges to repair the Honor he was de­priv'd of. And this promptness to talk of others Defects, is the result of a Mind de­fective in Charity or Prudence, and often in both: For Charity makes us conceal the Faults of others, as we would have our own kept private, and Prudence hinders us from speaking ill of another on pur­pose, or without necessity.

Avoid this Sin, Theotime, as a vile thing,It is odious to God and Man. Abominatio hominum de­tractor. Prov. 24. unworthy of a generous or truly Christian Soul, and as an odious Vice before both God and Men. A Detractor, says the Wise­man, is the the abomination of Men.

Be not therefore light in speaking of others Defects,Practice. but keep them secret when you know them. The Wiseman says ex­cellently well,Audisti ver­bum adversus proximum tuum? com­moriatu rin te. Eccl. 19. When you have heard any Speech against your Neighbor, let it die with­in you, that is, let it go no farther. In fine, conserve the Honor of another, as you know it is dear to him, and as you would desire he should conserve yours.

Yet it is to be observ'd,An important Remark. that it is not Detraction to speak of anothers Sin, when it is for his Good, or to hinder that it do not prejudice others, when one tells it to a discreet Person, who can or ought to ap­ply a Remedy to it. On the contrary, it is always Charity to do so, and there is fre­quently an Obligation of Conscience, and a very strict Obligation, in which one is sometimes defective, out of Fearfulness, or some vain Pretence he frames to himself, which springs only from the want of Cha­rity, and affection to the Salvation of our Neighbor, and which are the Causes that one is made culpable in the sight of God of the Sins of others. See more of this Subject in Chap. 18. of this Part.

Of Injuries and Reproaches.

Fly also Quarrels. which are the Causes [Page 328]of many Evils, as we shall shew hereafter; And in Debates which arise, avoid to speak injurious Words, utter not Reproaches or Threats, these are vile things, and unwor­thy of a vertuous Soul.Homo assuetus verbis impro­perit in omni­bus diebus non erudie­tur. Eccl. 23. Call to mind, that to return Injury for Injury, Reproach for Reproach, is to wash a Spot with Ink, and make it yet more black; for it is to blot out an Injury one hath done you, which is often only in the Imagination, with a Sin which is frequently mortal. It is to defend your Honor to the prejudice of your Sal­vation; if that can be accounted to de­fend your Honor, which defends it by the ruin of anothers Credit. The Spirit of Christianity is not only ignorant of offer­ing an Injury, but also of returning to those who first offer it you, according to those excellent Maxims of S. Paul, Benedicite persequenti­bus vos, bene­dicite & nolite maledicere, nulli malum pro malo red­dentes, non vosmetipsos defendentes, fed date locum irae. Noli vinci à malo, sed vince in bono malum. Rom. 12. Bless those who persecute you, bless them and curse them not. Render not Ill for Ill, nor revenge your self, nor give way to your Anger. Permit not your self to be overcome by Ill, but over­come Ill by Good; that is, the Ill which an­other do's you, by the Good you render him.

This you'll say is very hard. 'Tis true, Theotime, therefore you must learn to pra­ctise it betimes. These Maxims are diffi­cult to those who are not Instructed in their Youth, and have not learn'd to live but according to the Inclinations of Na­ture, yet they are facil to those who apply [Page 329]themselves in good time to do the Will of God, and live according to the Spirit of his Son Jesus Christ, by imitating his Example, and practising his Maxims as a Christian ought to do, otherwise he is a Christian in name, and not in reality.

Of Sowers of Discord.

Have a care also of another Sin of the Tongue,Non appelle­ris susurro, &c. Susurra­tori odium & inimicitia. & contumelia. Eccl. 5. which is but too common amongst young Persons, yet very prejudicial: It is to be the Author of Discords, by Reports which are often made by Indiscretion, not regarding the Evil which may from thence arise, and sometimes out of a bad Design, to stir up Divisions and Discords.

This Sin is great, and more heinous than is imagin'd; for it is the cause of ma­ny other Sins, and of all the Ills which accompany Quarrels. The Wiseman says, that God detests it:Sex sunt quae odit Dominus & septimum detestatur a­nima ejus. O­culos sublimes, &c. Et eum qui seminat inter fratres discordias. Prov. 6. There are six things, says he, which God hates, and there is a seventh which he detests; that is, he who sows Discords amongst his Brethren.

And Ecclesiasticus says,Susurro & bi­linguis male­dictus, multos enim turbavit pacem haben­tes. Eccl. 28. v. 13. Vir peccator turbavit amicos, & in medio pacem habentium immittet inimici­tiam. Ibid. v. 9. that The Sower of Discord is cursed, because he troubles those who are in Peace; and it is only the part of a wicked Man to disturb his Friends, and raise Division in Minds that are well united in Friendship. Yes, Theotime, for as Peace [Page 330]and Union proceeds from God, Discords and Dissentions spring from the Devil.Audiant jur­giorum semi­natores quod scriptum est. Beati pacifici quia filii Dei vocabuntur. Si filii Dei qui pacem faci­unt, procul­dubio filii Sa­tanae qui confundunt. S. Greg. 3. part. Pastor. For this reason the Son of God in the Go­spel says, That Peace-makers, that is, those who apply themselve to procure or pre­serve Peace amongst Men, are the Children of God. But if those who cause Peace are the Children of God, Then, adds S. Gre­gory excellently well, those who disturb it are the Children of Satan.

Fly this Sin, Theotime, because it is most heinous and criminal, detested both by God and Men. Keep a guard upon your Words, to the end you may never say any thing which may cause any Discord a­mongst others; but chiefly, be not the Author of it by Malice, or deliberate Pur­pose. Conceive a horror against this Vice, which can bring you nothing but inevita­ble Misfortune.

Of Lying.

There remains Lying, which is none of the meanest amongst the Sins of the Tongue; and it is by so much more im­portant that you should be solidly Instru­cted therein, as it is most ordinary amongst young Persons, and the Custom of this Sin infinitly pernicious.

A Ly is always a Sin,The Habit of Lying. because it is always against Truth; And altho' it be not a mortal Sin, when it is not in a Business of [Page 331]Consequence, nevertheless the Habit of Lying, altho' lightly, is not a light thing, nor of small importance.

A Habit or Custom of Lying opens a Gate to an infinit number of other Vices.The Vices it produces. A Lying Spirit will become a Cheat and Deceiver in his Management, Double in his Words, Unfaithful in his Promises, a Hypocrit in his Manners, a Dissembler in his Actions, a Flatterer, and Faint-hearted when he should speak Truth, Bold and Shameless to affirm Lies, Impudent to maintain them as certain Truths, a Swear­er, Detractor, Mistrustful in respect of every one; for as he is accustom'd to Ly, he believes that others always speak false. A Mind addicted to Lying, will more ea­sily tell them in great things, and be in­volv'd in heinous Sins.

So that, Theotime, Very prejudici­al to young People. Noli velle mentiri omne mendacium, assiduitas e­nim illius non est bona. Eccl. 7. there are few Vices more pernicious, and principally to Youth, than this liberty of Lying. For this reason the Wiseman advertises you, Not to take Pleasure in any manner of Ʋntruth; for a Custom or Habit of Lying is not good; that is, according to the Expression of the Scri­pture, it is very bad.

In a word, it is so wicked a Quality of the Mind to be a Lyar, that the Scripture speaks strange things of it.Abominatio est domino la­bia mendacia. It says that God hath a horror for it; That Lying Lips are an abomination to him; as on the con­trary, those who love Sincerity in their Words gain his Friendship.Perdes omnes qui loquuntur mendacium. Psal. 6. He will de­stroy all those who are addicted to Lying. It [Page 332]saith,Opprobrium nequam in ho­mine menda­cium. Potior fur quam assi­duitas viri mendacis. Eccl. 20. That amongst Men a Ly is an In­famy, it will always be found in disorderly and ill-instructed Minds. A Thief is more execusable than a Lyar, and both of them will inherit Perdition.

Lastly,It makes men like Devils. This Vice makes one like the Devil, who is pleas'd in nothing more than Lies.Vos ex patre diabolo essis, &c. Joh. 8. It was he who first invented it, and who is the Father thereof, as the Son of God hath nam'd him with his own Mouth.

And S. Augustin after him says,Quomodo Deus pater genuit filium veritatem, sic diabolus la­psus genuit quasi filium mendacium. S. Aug. Tract. 42. in Joh. Cavete fratres mendacium, quia omnes qui amant mendacium filii sunt, diaboli qui non solum mendax est sed etiam pater & inventor ipsius mendacii. S. Ambr. in Serm. de Dominica Passione. That as Truth comes from God, Lying takes its origin from the Devil. And S. Ambrose adds, That those who love Lying are the Children of that detestable Fiend, for the Children of God love Truth.

Fly entirely, Theotime, this pernicious Vice in all Occurrences, but chiefly in two.

First, When you speak of a thing of Importance, that is, when it prejudices your Neighbor in his Goods, Honor, or Health, wherein you must have a great care, and yet more if it be in your self.

Secondly, When you speak to a Person who hath Authority over you; for then a Ly is a very culpable Imposture, as well by reason of the Respect you violate, as be­cause it frequently happens, that those [Page 333]Falshoods notably prejudice your proper Good, or that of your Neighbor.

In fine, in whatsoever matter it be, and to whatsoever Person you speak, accustom your self never to tell a Lye on deliberate Purpose, or with Reflection. Love Truth and Sincerity in all your Words. O what an excellent Quality is it in a young Man, when he cannot tell an Untruth without Blushing. The Just, says the Wiseman,Verbum men­dax justus de­testabitur. Prov. 13. will detest a Lye. Demand of God that he give you a hatred of this Sin, and fre­quently offer to him that Prayer of Salo­mon, Vanitatem, Vers. 50. & verba mendacia longe fac à me; Remove from my Mind Vanity and lying Words.

Of Sobriety.

EXhort young Men to be Sober, Juvenes hor­tare ut Sobrii sint. Tit. 2. says the Apostle S. Paul to Titus his Disciple. Sobriety, Theotime, in the Judgment of this great Apostle, is necessary for Youth: And altho' by this Name of Sobriety he comprehends generally the moderation of the Heat and Impetuosity of that Age, which is naturally carry'd to an Excess in all things; nevertheless he intends also particularly the moderation of the Excess in Eating and Drinking, which are very ordinary in Youth, and extream prejudi­cial to them.

As Sobriety consists in the moderation of Eating and Drinking,Sobriety com­bats two Vices. it hath two Vices to combat with, Drunkenness and Glut­tony, both highly prejudicial to Youth: For these two Vices fight against four things at the fame time,These two Vices are contrary to four things. Civility, Health, Vigor of Mind, and Salvation.

There is nothing so unseemly in young Men,1. To Civility. as to be subject to Wine or Gluttony. Discreet Persons have an a­version for this Vice; and there is none but conceives a bad Judgment of a young Man addicted to the immoderate Pleasures of Eating and Drinking.

We see by Experience,2. To Health. how Wine and delicious Meats hurt the Health princi­pally of young People;In multis escis erit infirmi­tas, & avidi­tas appropin­quabit usque ad choleram: propter cra­pulam multi obierunt, qui autem absti­nens est adjiciet vitam. Eccl. 27. how the Excess of the one and the other causes Distem­pers and Infirmities, which often remain with them all their Life, and how they bring them to their Grave before their time; whereas on the contrary, Sobriety conserves Health and Life, as it is observ'd in many places of Sacred Scripture.

As for the Mind,3. To the Mind. who is there that do's not know how these two Vices are con­trary to it? We daily see, that Minds ad­dicted to Gluttony become stupid, gross, and carnal,Venter pin­guis non gig­nit meatem tenuem. Hier. Ep. ad Nepot. according to the Proverb ci­ted by S. Jerom, A fat Belly never produces a witty Mind; and those who love Wine become dull, brutish, and incapable of any Good.

But as for thy Salvation, Theotime, 4. To Salva­tion. It produces ma­ny Sins. it is incredible how these two Vices are hurt­ful: For besides the Sins of Intemperance which are committed in the Excess of Eating and Drinking,Vinum mul­tum potatu, irritationem & iram & ru­inas multas facit. Eccl. 31. which are in great number, and frequently very enormous, these two Vices cause a vast multitude of others, as Anger, Quarrels, Swearing, Blasphemies, immodest Discourses; and amongst others, the Sins of Impurity, which Intemperance enkindles in the Heart, and particularly of young Men, furnishing continually new Fuel to that Fire of Immodesty,Difficile inter epulas serva­tur pudicitia, vinum & ado­lescentia du­plex incendi­um voluptatis. S. Hier. l. 2. Ep. 6. idem ad Eustoch. which Concupiscence and the Heat of that Age incessantly en­flames. It is very difficult (says S. Jerom) to conserve Chastity in the midst of Banquets, and Wine joyn'd with Youth, makes a double enflaming of Pleasure. See the rest which we have cited above out of this Father in Part 3. Chap. 8. Artic. 5.

To fly entirely these two Vices,Practice. and to acquire and preserve Sobriety, you are to observe three things in Eating and Drink­ing, The Quantity, the Quality, and Mo­desty.

As for the Quantity,Quantity. have a care never to commit any Excess either in the one or the other, keeping your self always as much as you can within the Bounds of Suf­ficiency and Decency. It is the property of carnal Minds, and Ill-instructed, to eat without Measure and Rule, and to fill themselves with Meat without any Re­straint.

In the Quality there are three things to be avoided,Quality. to seek after delicate Meats, and such as provoke Impurity, as all hot Meats and Wine,Quicquid fa­cit seminari­um volupta­tum venenum puta. S. Hier. Ep. ad Furian. Nolite inebriari vino in quo est luxuria. Ephes. 5. which St. Jerom says is a Poison for Youth, and the first Means the Devil makes use of to move them to Uncleanness.

As for Modesty in Meals,Modesty. to eat with greediness, to devour all the Table with ones Eyes, to seek to please ones Palat, to speak of nothing but sweet Bits, to be the first in Eating, and the last in Leaving-off, are things absolutely opposite to Decency and Temperance: The Wiseman gives you Precepts quite contrary.

When you are set down at a Table, Super Men­sam magnam sedisti, non aperias super illam faucem tuam prior. Ne dicas ss multa sunt quae super il­lam sunt, &c. Ne extendas manum tuam prior, & invi­dia contami­natus erubescas. Utere quasi homo frugi his quae tibi apponuntur. Ut non cum manducas multum odio habearis. Cessa prior causa disciplinae, & noli nimius esse, ne offendas. Eccl. 51. says he, behave not your self greedily, as if you would devour all. Ask not if there be much. Begin not first to eat. Inconvenience not others by Eat­ing. Make use of the things that are brought up, rationally, and like a sober Man. Make an end first out of Modesty, and commit no Excess, lest you displease those with whom you are. You must make great account of these Precepts of Temperance, since they come from the Holy Ghost himself.

In fine,Noli esse in conviviis pec­catorum nec in comessatio­nibus eorum qui carnes conferunt ad vescendum. Quia vacan­tes potibus & dantes symbo­la consumen­tur. Prov. 23. Qui diligit epulas in ege­state erit, qui amat vinum & pinguia non ditabi­tur. Prov. 21.17. Theotime, be careful not to fre­quent the Company of those who are ad­dicted to Wine and Gluttony, according [Page 337]to the Counsel of the same Wiseman. Fly the Places design'd for that use, as Ta­verns: And chiefly, if you know you have an Inclination to the immoderate Pleasures of Eating and Drinking, use all your En­deavors to withdraw your self and amend, calling to mind that excellent Saying of the Wiseman, He who is addicted to curi­ous Meats, will become poor; and he who loves Wine and good Cheer, shall never grow rich. He means principally the Riches of the Mind, which are Wisdom and Vertue.

Demand of God,Aufer à me ventris concu­piscentias. Eccl. 23. Esca ventri & venter escis; Deus autem hanc & has destruet. 1 Cor. 6. Animalis ho­mo non perci­pit ea quae; Dei sunt. 1 Cor. 2. Attendite vobis ne graventur corda vestr [...]a crapula & ebrietate. Luc. 11. that he take away from you all affection to these sensual and carnal things, which never satisfie, and serve for nothing but to fatten that Body, which God will one day destroy, and will become Worms-meat, which will make the Mind brutish, and render it un­capable of tasting Divine things, and of conceiving a serious thought of their Sal­vation.

Of Meekness and Anger.

AS young Men are extreamly addicted to Pleasure,Two Vices that hear sway in young Persons. so they are excessively impatient in suffering things which dis­please [Page 338]them. These are the two Lording Passions which reign in Youth, and which precipitate them into all the Disorders wee see. Look upon all the Vices and Ex­travagances of Youth, consider all the Mis­fortunes that befall them, and you will find they spring from one of these two Foun­tains, either from the Love of Pleasures, or from Anger, and often from both toge­ther. These are the two Means the Devil employs to destroy young Men, being well assur'd, that if one succeeded not, the other would never fail. And it is fre­quently seen, that he ruins by Anger those he cannot gain by Pleasures, hurrying them by that impetuous Passion to most deplorable Misfortunes.

Wherefore, Theotime, as it is most im­portant for you to moderate this Love of Pleasures, so natural to your Age, of which we have hitherto spoken; so it is a ne­cessary Entertainment for you, to labor to repress those Motions of Choler, accord­ing to that excellent Precept the Wiseman gives you;Aufer iram à corde tuo, & amove mali­tiam à carne tua. Eccl. 11.10. Take away Anger from your Heart, and remove Malice from your Flesh, that is to say, Pleasure.

There are so many Reasons to fly An­ger,Powerful Rea­sons to fly An­ger. that it is a thing worthy of Astonish­ment, to see it should be so common a­mongst Men. I beseech you, Theotime, weigh attentively these which follow.

1. Anger is a brutish Passion, which renders Men like Beasts: For what is there liker an Animal, than a Man who cannot [Page 339]suffer the least thing? Beasts provoke themselves against every thing that hurts them, because they have no Reason; and if you stir up your self against every thing which displeases you, in what are you dif­ferent from a Beast? And what do's your Reason serve for?

2. Anger proceeds ordinarily from a want of Wisdom, or from the weakness of the Mind, which can suffer or dissemble nothing, and discerns not the things which deserve Anger, from those which do not. If then you be inclin'd to Anger, you shew you have a weak Mind, and more fill'd with Folly than Wisdom. This is the Judgment of the Wiseman, who says, ThatFatuus sta­tim indicat iram. Prov. 12. Ne sis velox ad irascen­dum, quia ira in sinu stulti requiescit. Eccl. 7. it belongs to Fools to fall presently into Anger: He therefore gives you this excellent Admonition, Be not subject to fall into Choler, for Anger rests in the bosom of the unwise; that is, Anger is proper and natural to ill-bred Minds.

3. Anger disturbs the Judgment and Reason, and renders a Man uncapable of discerning Good from Bad, True from False, Useful from Unprofitable. It makes one frequently take the one for the other, so that a Man in Anger hath nothing but the exterior Shape and Figure of a Man.

4. The Exterior it self is in such a manner chang'd, that it makes a Man con­temptible, his Eyes sparkling, his Counte­nance pale, his Speech interrupted, his Body trembling, his Clamors, and other like Alterations, are the Effects of An­ger, [Page 340]which make a Man as it were out­ragious.

5.Spiritum ad irascendum facilem quis poterit susti­nere? Prov 28. Grave est sax um & onerosa arena, sed ira stulti utroque gravior. Prov. 27. From thence it comes, that a Man in Anger is insupportable to all the World, every one stands in fear, and a­bandons him, even his Friends fly from him. Who can endure a Mind subject to Choler? says the Wiseman; Stones and Sand are not so burthensom as a disorderly Mind.

6. How many wicked Effects are there of Anger?The had Ef­fects of Anger. From thence Quarrels, Injuries, Detractions, Enmities, Desires of Re­venge, Oaths, Blasphemies, and a thou­sand other Sins which it causes to be com­mitted. This made the Wiseman say, That he who is subject unto Anger, Qui est ad in­dignandum facilis, erit ad peccata velo­cior. Prov. 28. will be apt to fall into many Sins. From thence the ruin of Friendship amongst Friends, in­ward Grudges, irreconcileable Discords; From thence many Misfortunes, Reven­ges, Beatings, Duels, dreadful and mise­rable Deaths.

Lastly, Anger is absolutely contrary to the Spirit of Christianity.Qui irascitur fratri suo reus erit judicii. Mat. 5. Discite à me quia mitis sum & humilis corde. Mat. 11. Charitas patiens est, non irritatur. 1 Cor. 3. Omnis amaritudo, & ira, & in lignatio, & clamor, & blasphemia, tollatur à vobis. Ephes. 4. He who it angry at his Brother, is worthy of Judgment. Says the Son of God, Learn from me who am meek, and humble of Heart. Charity (saith S. Paul) is patient and benign, is not provoked. Let all bitterness, choler, indignation, clamor, blasphemy, be banisht from amongst you.

Remedies against Anger.

If you be possess'd by this Passion, Theo­time, use all your Endeavors to moderate it: And for this intent read attentively the following Maxims, and attempt to practise them.

1. Never be provok'd to Anger upon small Occasions: For Example, if one says some light Words to you, do's something that displeases you; if a Servant be wanting to wait on you punctually; to be mov'd to Choler for these things is an Indiscretion, and the Effect of an irregular Mind.

2. If the Ill one hath done you be great, before you be troubled for it, see whether your Anger will serve to remedy it, and you will find most commonly, that it will be absolutely unuseful for that purpose; and if it be improfitable, it is a folly to vex your self. For Example, One hath given you injurious Words, or spoken ill of you, when you fall into Passion, you will not repair the Injury nor the Detraction; you must then seek some other Means, a­mongst which Contempt is the best.

3. Suppose it be fitting sometimes to manifest some Discontent for the Evil an­other hath done you, to hinder him from doing the same again, because, according to the Wiseman,Per triftitiam vultus corrri­gitur animus delinquentis. Eccl. 7. By the sadness of the Coun­tenance the Mind of him who hath fail'd, is corrected; yet nevertheless it can never be profitable, either to conceive Anger in [Page 342]ones Heart, or to brawl, storm, affront, or offer Reproaches. On the contrary, it prejudices your good Repute, if you have any; and it is against Vertue, because in all this you offend God.

4. Be then always upon your guard to prevent Anger when you see it coming. Now if it sometimes prevent you, before you have been able to divert it, endeavor to return quickly to your self, and to be easily appeased. Well-bred Spirits are soon pacifi'd, according to the Judgment of the Poet;

Quo quisque est major, magis est placabilis ira,
Et faciles motus mens generosa capit.

And as S. Augustin says excellently well,Irasci homi­nis est, finem imponere ira­cundiae, Chri­stiani. S. Hier. Epist. ad Dem. It is natural to a Man to be angry, but it is the property of a Christian to keep it within bounds. Beneficium se putabat ac­cepisse augu­stae memoriae Theodosius, cum rogare­tur ignoscere, & tunc propi­or erat veniae, cum suisset commotio major iracundiae. Praerogativa ignoscendi erat indig­natum suisse, & petebatur in eo, quod in aliis timebatur, ut irasce­retur. Ambr. de ob. Theod. St. Ambrose recounts of the Emperor Theodosius the Great, That he was so much in inclin'd to Meekness, that he esteem'd himself oblig'd very much, when one ask'd him Pardon, and when he was most angry, he pardon'd easiest; so that one desir'd in him, what was fear'd in others, viz. that he should be in Choler. O what an excellent Example is this, and which deserves to be well consider'd!

5. When you shall be put into Passion, impose some Punishment upon your self, as some Prayers, Alms, or other things; express a trouble for it to those who see you.

6. There is scarce any Person but says or do's something in his Anger, of which he repents himself after. When there­fore you shall be in Choler, restrain your self as much as you can from saying or do­ing any thing which Passion suggests. Ne­ver believe your self when you are in Pas­sion; expect till it be past, to judge whe­ther a thing be ill spoken or done, and you will often find that it was not.

7. Entertain not your Thoughts with the Subject of your Displeasure, to per­suade your self that you have just cause to be angry; this is but to cherish your Pas­sion: there is none but thinks he has a great deal of Reason when he is in Choler. On the contrary, convince your self that you may be deceiv'd, and divert your Mind to another thing.

8. If you desire to have an aversion for Anger, consider another attentively when he is in Passion; you will see nothing in him and his Actions, but what will dis­please you. The same happens to you in respect of others, when you are angry: And if you should see your self in a Look­ing-glass, you would be vexed at your self, and would not endure your self in that Condition.

9. Fly the Conversation of impatient [Page 344]and cholerick Men,Noli esse a­micus homini iracundo ne forte discas semitas ejus. Prov. 29. according to that rare Precept of the Wiseman, Contract not Friendship with a cholerick Man, lest you learn his Humor.

In sine, accustom your self to be affable and benign toward others, to excuse their Faults, to forget Injuries, to pardon easily, not to be so delicate and sensible in the things which concern you, to speak mildly to all. And learn in good time, Theotime, the practise of that adorable Sentence of Jesus Christ,Discite à me quia mitis sum & humilis corde. Mat. 11. Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

Of Peace with our Neighbor, against Quarrels and Enmities.

ANger produces Quarrels,Young People are much sub­ject to Quar­rels. Enmities, and other bad Effects which we have spoken of. Now it is important that you should he well Instructed concerning these had Effects of this wicked Cause, being that young Men are much subject to these Disorders. The Heat of their Age makes them impatient to suffer the least Injuries, indiscreet and inconsiderate to be able to repress them any other ways than by those of Passion, which carries them to Dissen­tions, Enmities, and Revenge. From hence arise a vast number of Mischiefs, and a­mongst other, the ruin of Vertue in these young Souls; for where there is no Peace, [Page 345]there can be no Charity, nor consequently Vertue. And as the Apostle St. James says,Ubi zelus & contentio, ibi inconstantia & omne opus pravum. Jac. 3. Where there are Emulation, and Con­tention, Inconstancy and all sort of wicked Actions are there also.

It is a Rock which with all possible care you must seek to avoid, learning in good time to hate Quarrels and Enmities,Pacem habete & Deus pacis & dilectionis erit vobiscum. 2 Cor. 11. and to love Peace and Concord: For if you have not a peaceable Spirit, the God of Peace will not be with you.

To acquire and preserve this peaceable Spirit,Means to ac­quire a peace­able Mind. you must have a care of Three things. 1. Not to quarrel with any Per­son. 2. Not to give occasion to others to offer any to you. 3. To behave your self discreetly when any one hath a Diffe­rence with you.

1.Raise no Quar­rels. Raise not therefore any Quarrels with others, upon whatsoever occasion. There are some Spirits naturally quarrel­som, who are always at Debate with o­thers: Impatient Spirits, which can suffer nothing; rash and inconsiderate, always guided by a fantastical Humor, and not by Reason. It is a wicked and pernicious Quality, which is the Mark of a sottish and impertinent Spirit: For, as the Wiseman says,Labia stulti miscent se ri­xis & os ejus jurgia provo­cat. Prov. 18. The Ʋnwise thrusts himself into Quarrels, and his Mouth provokes Dissenti­ons. Be not you such an one, Theotime. Honor est homini qui se­parat se à con­tentionibus, omnes autem miscentur contumeliis. Prov. 20. It is an Honor, says the Wiseman, to be separated from Debates, they are only ill-bred Spirits who engage themselves therein. Where I speak not of another sort of quarrelsom [Page 346]Spirits, who through Malice and a very wicked Inclination seek Quarrels, and take a pleasure in raising them, and making themselves Enemies: These are ungraci­ous Spirits, who seek their own Misfor­tune, and find it at length, according to that Verity of the Scripture,Semper jur­gia quaerit malus, ange­lus autem cru­delis mittetur contra eum. Prov. 13. The Wick­ed seeks always Quarrels, but a cruel Angel shall be sent out against them; that is, the Devil will bring him some Disaster which will destroy him.

2. It is not sufficient to abstain from stirring up a Debate with any one, you must have a care not to give occasion to others to cause a Difference with you.Give no occasi­on of Quar­rels. Sometimes occasion is given upon Design, and deliberate Purpose, which is proper to turbulent malicious Spirits, Lovers of Disturbance, and Enemies of peace. Some­times, and most frequently, Offence is gi­ven by Imprudence, for want of taking care of the things which might provoke our Neighbor. This is what you must be solicitous to avoid.Ejice deriso­rem, & exibit cum eo jurgi­um. Prov. 22. Endeavor therefore to abstain from every thing that may dis­gust your Neighbor, as too great Contra­dictions, Detractions, indiscreet Reports, Contempts, S [...]offs, Injuries, and a thou­sand other like things.

3.Carry your self Wisely, if you be quarrell'd with. Now if it chance that any one quar­with you, even when you gave no occasion on your part, endeavor to comport your self discreetly, not permitting your self to be carry'd away with the Passion of Anger, or at least returning presently to [Page 347]your self. Above all, suffer not your self to go so far as to offer an Injury or Re­proach, as we have already said; strive to appease your Neighbor with sweet Words, shewing modestly that you have done him no wrong,Responsio mollis frangit iram. sermo durus suscit furorem. Prov. 19. or excuse your self mildly if you have offer'd him any; If he be not pacifi'd for that, withdraw your self from his Company, to let his Choler pass.

But you'l say, They'll contemn me, and account me a Coward. I answer,Answer to a common Obje­ction. That none but impertinent Persons will do so, and all discreet Men will praise you for your Moderation, and esteem you much more. If Courage consisted in Quarrelling, and giving Injury for Injury, litigious Persons, and all base Souls, would be more couragi­ous than you. Courage consists in despising Injuries, dissembling them by Modesty, ex­cusing them easily, diverting them dis­creetly when we can, and when we can­not, in supporting them with Christian Patience, after the Example, and for the Love of our Saviour, Who when he was re­viled, Qui cum ma lediceretur non maledi­cebat, cum pa teretur non comminaba­tur. 1 Pet. 2. reviled not again, when he suffer'd he threatned not. This, Theotime, is the Cou­rage of a well-bred Mind, the Generosity of a true Christian, and of a faithful Ser­vant of God.

Of Pardon of Injuries against Revenge.

THere is yet a necessary thing conserve Peace and Meekness towards our Neighbor, which is the Pardon of Injuries. It is a Vertue which must be learn'd be­times, by so much sooner as it is more dif­ficult, very rare amongst Christians, and yet absolutely necessary for Salvation.

You must learn,We must learn from our Youth to pardon In­juries. dear Theotime, to par­don the Injuries which are offer'd you; that is, never to harbor in your Mind any hatred against your Neighbor, for what­soever Displeasure you have receiv'd from him, not to have any desire of Revenge, nor wish him any Ill; but on the contrary, desire him Good, and shew him Kindness, when his Necessity, or other Edification require it.

You'll say that this is difficult. 'Tis true, but it is only hard to those who have never consider'd the Reasons which oblige them to it;Strong Reasons to persuade to the pardon of Injuries. which are so strong and pow­erful, that they who, after they have made never so little reflection on them, are not convinc'd, must needs have lost all their Sense and Judgment.

1. God will have it, and absolutely, without any Exception commands it you. He hath said in the Old Testament,Non quaeres ultionem nec memoreris in­juriae civium tuorum. Lev. 19. Seek not Revenge, remember not the Injury of your Fellow-Citizens. And in the Now, his Son [Page 349] Christ Jesus hath solemnly renew'd the Prohibition.Diligite ini­micos vestros. Mat. 5. I say unto you, Love your Enemies, do well to those who hate you. Nulli ma­lum pro malo reddentes. Rom. 12. Ren­der not ill for ill, saith St. Paul. c And he who hateth his Brother, says St. John, is a Murderer.

2. He will have it on such a Conditi­on, that he will not pardon your Sins, ex­cept you from your Heart pardon all those who have offended you.Dimittite & dimittemini, eadem quippe mensura qua mensi fueritis remetietur vobis. Luc. 6. Pardon, and you shall be pardoned, says the Son of God; In the same Measure you have measured to others, it shall be measured unto you. Si non dimi­seritis homi­nibus, nec pa­ter vester di­mittet vobis. Mat. 6. If you forgive not Men, your celestial Father will not for­give you. f Judgment shall be given without Mercy, says the Apostle S. James, to him who hath not shewed Mercy. Consider this well, and see whether you would not have God pardon you.

3. This Will of God depends upon so manifest a Point of Equity, that even the most Obstinate cannot contradict it. Is there any thing more Just, than that God should treat you as you treat others, That he should pardon you as you pardon o­thers, That he should revenge himself of you, if you will be reveng'd of those who have offended you? Is not this Just? Weigh well, Theotime, what I am going [Page 350]to say,A Discourse to be well consi­der'd. You would have God infinite in Majesty and Power, offended, by whom? By his own Creature, after he had be­stow'd upon it all imaginable Favors, and offended most grievously, and with an in­finite Offence, for which neither you nor all Creatures together, altho' you should joyn your Lamentations with them for all Eternity, could know how to make him worthy Satisfaction; injur'd, in fine, by an Offence which deserves an Eternal Damnation, which cannot be avoided but by his pure Mercy, which he is not oblig'd to shew you. Would you, I say, desire that a God so Great, offended by you so grievously, should pardon you such an Offence, and remit you such a Punishment, and will not you pardon your Brother, one like to you, for a small Offence? You who are a Sinner as he is, and who have need of Pardon as well as he; You who perhaps have wrong'd him first, or at least have shew'd him to Kindness, or if you have, it is not comparable to that God hath shewn you; nay, moreover, that Favor you have done him, came not from you, but from God; Will you, I say, amongst all these Considerations seek Revenge and Satisfaction for your Offence,Qui vindicari vult à Domino inveniet vin­dictam. Ho­mo homini re­servat iram & à Deo quaerit medelam, in hominem si­milem sibi non habet miseri­cordiam, & de peccatis suis deprecatur: ipse cum caro sit, reservat iram, & propitiationem petit à Deo. Quis exorabit pro peccatis illius? Eccl. 28. and will not have God revenge himself of you? Are not you Unjust, yea, even Ridiculous? Man reserves Anger for Man, and begs Mercy of God. He hath no Compassion of one like himself, and he would have God take pity upon him. He, miserable and wretched Crea­ture [Page 351]as he is, would revenge himself, and be­seeches God that he would not revenge himself of him. Who is there, says the Wiseman, will offer Prayers for his Sins?

After this, Theotime, what have you to answer? Will you say that it is hard to pardon? Say also,A convincing Answer to com­mon Objections on this Subject. that it is hard that you should obtain pardon of your Sins from God. But you will say, I would freely pardon him, and not revenge my self; but to love and wish him well who hath offen­ded me, and would do me a Mischief, this is that wherein I cannot overcome my self. If it be so, grant then that you would not have God love you, nor bestow upon you any Blessing; for he will treat you as you treat your Neighbor. Say that you will not love another like your self, for the love of Jesus Christ, who hath lov'd you so as to Die for your Salvation; and that God having lov'd you when you were un­worthy, you will not love your Brother, except he be worthy of your Love. Say that you will not love your Neighbor for the love of God, but for the love of your self only. And altho' God command you to love him who hath offended you, ex­horts you to it, and accounts the Love you render to one like you, as done to his own Person; yet all this is not capable to make you quit the Resentment and hatred you [Page 352]bear in your Heart. Say, in fine, that you pretend nothing to the Grace of God, and Eternal Life, being the Scripture teaches us, ThatNos scimus quoniam translati su­mus de morte ad vitam quo­niam diligi­mus fratres. Qui non diligit manet in morte. 1 Joh. 3. we are transported from Death to Life, by the Love we shew to our Bre­thren; And that he who loves not, remains in Death.

Let us conclude, Theotime, that either we must renounce Christianity, the Love of God, and Eternal Salvation, or we must necessarily pardon Injuries, love our Ene­mies, and render Good for Evil. But as this Vertue is difficult in the Corruption of Nature, and the Depravation of the World, which cannot relish it, you must learn it in good time,Agnoscit se esse hominem, qui novit ig­noscere, & vi­as Christi se­quitur qui carne suscepta maluit in hunc modum re­demptor ve­nire, quam judex. S. Amb. Orat. de obit. Theod. and demand it fre­quently of God. Beg of him, that he would give you a meek and peaceable Heart, and which loves to render Good for Evil. Accustom your self from your Youth to pardon small Injuries, not to render Ill for Ill, that you may learn to pardon great ones upon occasion, for the Love of him who hath saved you, when he might most justly have destroy'd you for all Eternity.

Of the Love of our Neighbor.

THIS Vertue is the Mother of the three former, and its Defects cause all the Disorders we have spoken of in the three last Chapters: For Anger, Dissen­tions, Animosities, Revenges, spring only from the want of Charity, and because we love not our Neighbor Christianly, and as God commands us to love him.

It is a thing of most Importance, that you be instructed in this Vertue, because it is a Fundamental Vertue of Christiani­ty,Diliges Do­minum Deum tuum ex toto corde, & pro­ximum sicut te ipsum. which is Establish'd upon these two Laws, Love God above all things, and your Neighbor as your self; and yet very rare, and badly practis'd amongst Christians.

The generality of Christians believe, That to love their Parents, their Friends,A common Er­ror concerning the Love of our Neighbor. and those from whom they expect any Fa­vor, is sufficient, and accounts the Affecti­on to all other Men as indifferent. This is not to love our Neighbor, but our Selves. Children from their Youth are bred up in this Opinion, they are taught only to love those who do them good, and hate those who do them hurt. From hence arise all the Discords which disfigure the the Face of Christianity, the Harshness with which Men treat one another, the little Support they mutually give, the small Assistance they afford them in their Ne­cessities. [Page 354]From thence the Propensity to Quarrels, Injuries, ill Treatments, Hatred, and Revenge.

It is very important to disabuse young Persons of this common Error, and to in­struct them in this Vertue so necessary for Salvation.

This Error proceeds from three things which ought to be known in this Vertue; that is,Three things to be known in the Love of our Neighbor. Who are our Neighbors which must be lov'd, The Motive for which they must be lov'd, And in what this Love consists.

1.1. Who he is. Our Neighbors which must be lov'd, are all Men, even the most unknown, Great and Mean, Poor and Rich, Good and Bad, Friend and Foe.

2.2. The Motive to love him. The Motive for which they must be lov'd, is because they are all the Children of God, Created to his Image, Redeem'd by the Blood of his Son Jesus Christ; be­cause God, who is our common Father, will have us love them as our Brethren, and be­cause Jesus Christ, who is our common Sa­vior hath commanded us to love them.

3.3. In what it consists. This Love consists in three things, In desiring Good to all; In doing it when we can, principally in their Temporal and Spiritual Good; And in supporting their Defects, and excusing their Faults.

This is, Theotime, true Charity, which is one of the Foundations of Vertue, the Mark of a Christian Spirit, without which we cannot please God, nor have any real Vertue, and wherein it is necessary you [Page 355]be exercis'd in good time to acquire it.

1.Practice. 1. To desire Good to all. Accustom your self to consider all Men as your Brethren, and in this Quality to desire Good to all of them. Be meek and amiable to all, Have compassion on the Poor and Afflicted, Be not envious at the Rich, and all those in Prosperity: Love the Good by reason of their Vertue, the Wicked that they may become Good; desiring the Perseverance of the former, and the Conversion of the latter. We must hate Sin, which is the Work of Man, but love Man, who is the Work of God.

2.2. To procure it when we can. Being it is nothing to wish one Good, except we do it when we can. Use your self to be prompt and inclin'd to do Good to your Neighbor when you can.Three sorts of Goods. Now there are three sorts of Goods which we may procure to our Neighbor, in his Body, in his Honor, and in his Soul.

As for the First, Assist others in their Necessities, according to the Power and Occasions you have:1. Corporal. Give Alms freely to the Poor. O what an excellent Vertue in a young Man is Mercy and Compassion for the Poor! Happy those who can say with Job, Ab infantia crevit mecum miseratio. Job 21. Eleemosyna ab omni pec­cato & morte liberat & non patietur animam ire ad tenebras. Tob. 4. Compassion hath increas'd with me from my Infancy. Because it will attract a great abundance of Divine Blessings upon them during all their Life, and at the Hour of our Death, as it is said in the Scripture.

As for their Honor,2. Moral. you ought to con­serve it in your Neighbor as much as pos­sible. Hinder Calumnies and Detractions. If one be accus'd of a Wickeness which he hath not done, defend him, and say that it is not so. If one discover the Ill he hath done, endeavor to excuse him, and hinder that it be not spoken of any more: Speak of some other Good he hath done, or some good Quality he is endow'd with: Shew that Detraction displeases you, and ex­hort him who utters it, to spare the Re­putation of his Neighbor.

As for the Good of the Soul,3. Spiritual. which con­sists in Vertue and Salvation, since it is the greatest of all Goods, you must use all pos­sible Means to procure it for your Neigh­bor. You will perform this by Praying for him, by endeavoring to withdraw him from Vice, and from ill Occasions, when there are any, either by your self, or by others who can prevail with him; by Ad­vertising him mildly of his Duty, or causing him to be Admonish'd; by giving him good Counsel and good Example, and by other Means which Charity will suggest to you. Accustom your self to do all these things to them you have most occasion of, as to your Friends, your Companions, your Do­mesticks, your Servants, and to those with whom you converse. This is the true Love of our Neighbor, to love him for his Salvation, and Eternity.

There remains a Third thing necessary for the Love of our Neighbor,To support his Defects. which is [Page 357]charitably to support his Defects, and ex­cuse his Faults, as much as Prudence will permit:Priusquam interroges, ne vituperes quemquam: & cum inter­rogaveris cor­ripe juste. Eccl. 11. Not to be inclin'd to blame and reprehend, either without Knowledge, or with Bitterness, or without any Necessity or Profit. Now there is no Necessity or Profit, when the Reprehension doth not avail for the Amendment of him who is Faulty, nor for the Edification of others.

In fine, Theotime, the great Rule of the Love of our Neighbor, consists in judging our Neighbor by our selves, according to the Maxim of the Wiseman,Intellige quae proximi sunt ex teipso. Eccl. 31. Judge of that which concerns your Neighbor by your self; and in practising that great Maxim of the Scripture, and which Nature her self teaches us,Quod ab a­lio oderis tibi fieri, vide ne tu aliquando alteri facias. Tob. 4. Omnia quae­cunque vultis ut faciant vobis homines & vos facite illis. Mat. 7. Do nothing to another, which you would not have done to your self. And also do to others the Good which ra­tionally, and according to God, you would have done to you in the like Occasion.

Of Fraternal Correction, or of the Obliga­tion of hindering the Ill of another, when one can.

THAT which we have said of the Obligation, Charity imposes upon Christians, of procuring the Salvation of our Neighbor when we can, deserves a more particular Reflection, it being a [Page 358]thing of high Importance, and neverthe­less infinitely neglected, and for the most part absolutely unknown. This Obliga­tion is not understood what it is; it is taken for a new Language, and for a thing almost incredible.

Yet there is nothing more common in the Sacred Scripture, which teaches us, ThatMandavit unicuiq [...]e de proximo suo. Eccl. 17. God hath given the Charge of his Neighbor to every one; ThatAedificate alterutrum sicut & sacitis. 1 Thessal. 5. Pleni estis dilectione, ita ut possitis alterutrum monere. Rom. 15. Nolite communicare operibus infructuosis tenebrarum; magis autem redarguite. Ephes. 5. we should Edifie one another, mutually Admonish one another. Not to be partakers of the Works of Darkness, that is, of the Sins of another, but reprehend him freely.

In fine, to love God above all things, and our Neighbor as our selves. For how do we love our Neighbor as our selves, if these greatest Necessities, which are those of his Salvation, move us so little, that we abandon them for our least Interests, which are frequently only in the Imagination, and Fopperies? And how do we love God a­bove all things, if we neglect to hinder him from being offended, when some means is offer'd to effect it.

This Obligation is so great, that it hath made St. John Chrisostom deliver an asto­nishing Expression,S. Jo Chrisost. adversus vitu­per. vitae Mo­nast. lib. 5. viz. That God will require no less Account of us, of the Sal­vation of our Neighbor than of our own; And that when we shall have liv'd all our [Page 359]Life very piously, if we have neglected the Salvation of others upon occasions, the Sanctity of our Life shall be unprofitable, it being certain, that that Negligence is so criminal, that it alone may be the cause of our Damnation. He gives the Reason, Because he who is wanting to assist his Neighbor in his corporal Necessities, is rejected by God at the Day of Judgment, notwithstanding the Good he hath other­wise perform'd: Much more he who neg­lects to succor his Brother in a thing of far greater Consequence, as is the Salva­tion of his Soul, will deserve all manner of Punishments.

The Discharge of this great Obligation depends upon the practise of the Com­mandment of Fraternal Correction which our Lord hath given us, and whereof he hath prescrib'd the Order in Chap. 18. of S. Matthew, in these Words,Si peccave­rit in te frater tuus, vade & corripe eum inter te & ip­sum solum. Si te audierit, lucratus es fratrem tuum, si autem te non audierit, adhibe tecum unum vel duos, quod si non audierit eos, dic Ecclesiae. Mat. 18. If your Bro­ther sin against you, go and reprehend him secretly; if he hear you, you have gained him; if he hear you not, take one or two others with you, if he will not hear them, tell the Church.

That you may understand this Com­mandment,Five things of Consequence to be observ'd in this Command. so much unknown, and so ill practis'd, I shall observe here four or five things, which will facilitate the Under­standing and Practise of it.

The First is the End of this Command­ment,Its End. which is to remedy the Misfor­tune [Page 360]of our Neighbor, that is, to hinder that our Neighbor who hath sinn'd, may not relapse into his Fault, or that others do not offend by his Example or Induce­ment.

The Second is,The Persons it obliges. That this Command­ment obliges not only Superiors, but all sorts of Persons, it being a Command of Charity, which, as S. Thomas saith, every one is oblig'd to have.

The Third is,The Circum­stances wherein it obliges. That this Obligation is understood only when these two Circum­stances occur. 1. When we know the Ill committed, and the apparent danger that our Neighbor will relapse into it, or cause others to fall therein. 2. When we may hinder the Evil of another, and bring some Remedy for it.

The Fourth is, That this Power of stopping the Mischief, is not only under­stood of what we our selves may do, but also of what we may effect by anothers means. This is what our Lord made evi­dently appear, in saying, If he hear not you, take some other Person with you; and if he still continue to persist, tell the Church.

The Fifth Remark is, That what he says of telling the Church, that is, the Su­periors, may be perform'd either privately or publickly; and that when the First Way, that is, the secret, suffices to hinder the Misfortune, as ordinarily it doth, we are not oblig'd to the Second.

Thus to collect all these Observations, [Page 361]and joyn them together; The Command­ment of Fraternal Correction obliges eve­ry one to hinder the Evil or Sin of another, when he knows it, and can remedy it, by himself or by other Persons, which may be employ'd for that effect. From whence it follows, That to discharge ones self of the Obligation of this Commandment, one is oblig'd to divert the Mischief by ano­ther, when one cannot by himself.

We have already manifested the great­ness of this Obligation, in which one can­not fail without a heinous Sin, and the neglect of it will be found most reprehen­sible at the Divine Judgment. In effect, Theotime, is it not a highly criminal thing before God, to see or know any one in the danger of his Soul, and contemn the Assi­stance he might afford him in that State? And to be concern'd no more to hinder his Neighbor from mortally offending God when he can, than to divert him from drinking a Glass of Water?Qui habue­rit substanti­am hujus mundi & vi­derit fratrem suum necessi­tatem habere, & clauserit viscera sua ab eo, quomo­do charitas Dei manet in eo? 1 Joh. 4. If any one (says S. John) sees his brother in necessity, and shutteth up his Compassion from him, when he hath wherewithal to assist him, how dwell­eth the love of God in him? If this be so in Corporal Necessities, what will it be in Spiritual?S. Chris. de ferend. repre­hensionibus. S. Chrysostom says it is an ex­tream Cruelty to neglect thus a Neighbor. And if it be an unspeakable Harshness not to help to raise a Beast fallen under his Bur­then, how can it but be the utmost Cruelty not to do that for the Soul of his Brother, which Men do for brute Beasts? A Beast [Page 362]fallen (saith S. Bernard) finds those who raise it, Cadit asinus & est qui sub­levet, perit a­nima & non est qui repu­tet. S. Bern. Hom. 4.1. ad Cor. a Soul is destroy'd, and no one concerns himself.

If the Old Law (says St. Chrysostom) strictly commanded not to neglect the Ox of ones Enemy when he is found stray'd, but to bring him back to his Master; what Pardon ought he to expect, who neglects and abandons not a stray'd Ox of his Enemy, but the Soul of his Brother Christian lost in Sin?

If your Brother (says S. Augustin) had a mortal Wound upon his Body, which he would conceal for fear of Incision, would it not be an Inhumanity in you, to conspire by your Silence with him in his Design? as on the contrary, you would shew him a great Kindness, to dis­cover his Distemper to a Physician, to apply a Remedy to it. With how much more reason ought you to do the same thing for the Wounds of his Soul, since they are far more dangerous to be neglected, and permitted to putrifie in the Heart, lest they cause Death in him, and infect others with their Stench.

In sine, if you should see the beginning of a Fire, which you might easily put out either by your self, or at least by adverti­sing others who might do it, would you not be guilty of all the Burning if you were defective therein? How many mor­tal Sins are there committed in conse­quence of such a like Negligence as this?

Consider, Theotime, and weigh well all [Page 363]these Reasons. What would you answer to God in his dreadful Judgment, if thro' Remissness, or some vain Fear, or some miserable Complacence, as it frequently happens, you should be so misfortunate as to fall into that criminal Negligence? What Reason could you alledge which had hinder'd you? What is the Salvation of a Soul worth, or one mortal Sin which you might divert? What will you say when you shall be reproach'd, that you had more apprehension of displeasing your Neigh­bor, than of offending God; and that fre­quently by Indiscretion, Anger, or Malice, you were not afraid to divulge the same thing, which you would not discover se­cretly by Charity? But what will you an­swer when it shall be made appear, that you might have often hindred the Wick­edness of another, without any Danger, and that you had only an imaginary Fear, or rather a great Slackness, or foolish Complacence, which hath hinder'd you from it? You will then see your self cul­pable of the Sins of another, and charg'd with many Faults which you might have hinder'd, and which were caus'd by your Silence: God will exact an Account of you for them.

You must avoid this Misfortune, Theo­time; and to perform it, practise what the Son of God hath prescrib'd us. When you see any one offend God mortally, as by Swearing, Talking uncivilly, Soliciting you to Wickedness, or know of any nota­ble [Page 364]Disorder, endeavor to divert him from it, if you can, by your mild and cha­ritable Admonitions. If you cannot, as not having sufficient Boldness to do it, or sufficient Authority to hinder it, do what our Lord appoints you, employ discreetly other Persons therein, which you know can perform it better than you, and par­ticularly those who have the Conduct of him, whom you know to have gone astray.

This is the Rule which S. Augustin, after our Lord, gives on this Occasion, in his 109. Epistle, where he adds these excel­lent Words, which are inserted in the Ca­non Law;Non vos ju­dicetis esse malevolos, quando cri­men alterius judicatis: ma­gis quippe in­nocentes non estis, si fratres vestros quos judicando corrigere potestis, tacendo perire permit­titis. S. Aug. 5. Quest. c. 1. Believe not, says he, that it is to do hurt to your Neighbor, to discover thus his Wickedness to cure it: On the contrary, you are guilty of his Ruin, if when you might heal his Evil by declaring it to the Physician, you permit him to perish by your Silence. After­wards he adds a Comparison cited above.

Now if we must act thus even when the Neighbor's Sin hurts but him alone,Quaedam sunt peccata occul­ta quae sunt in nocumento proximorum vel corporale vel spirituale, & quia ille qui sic occulte peccat, non solum in te peccat, sed e­tiam in alios, oporter sta­tim procedere ad denuncia­tionem ut hujusmodi nocumentum impediatur. S. Thom. 2.2. q. 23. a. 7. we are much more oblig'd when it prejudices o­thers, whether by ill Example, if his Sin be known to any, or because he induces others to Sin; for then he must desist from his par­ticular Admonition, which can avail no­thing, and go directly to them who can, and ought to watch for the Good and Sal­vation of others, that he may prevent by them the Mischief, and hinder the Ruin of [Page 365]another, or of many, following that Rule of S. Thomas and other Divines.

For Conclusion, Theotime, I shall give you that excellent Saying of S. James the Apostle to meditate on.Fratres mei, si quis ex vo­bis erraverit a veritate, & converti fece­rit quis eum, scire debet quoniam qui converti fecerit peccatorem ab errore viae suae, salvabit animam ejus à morte & operiet multitudinem peccatorum. Jacob. 5. Brethren, says he, if any of you goes astray out of the way of Salvation, and any one shall contribute to his Conversion, he ought to know that he shall save the Soul of his Brother, and that his Sins shall be forgiven him.

Of Friendships.

I Speak here of Friendships, because they conduce much to bring Youth to Good or Evil, according as they are good or bad; and since young People are much in­clin'd to Love, and besides, not having suf­ficient Light to discern good Friendship from hurtful, it often falls out that they contract very bad Friendships, which pre­judice them very much, and are most com­monly the cause of their Destruction.

There is a difference between the Love of our Neighbor and Friendship. We must love all Men in the manner we have said, [Page 366]but we cannot have Friendship with all Men, because Friendship is a mutual and particular Love.

It is a reciprocal Communication of Affections,What Friend­ship is. by which two Persons parti­cularly love one another, and mutually procure Good to one another.

Friendship is such as is the Subject on which it is founded; if we love in a Friend a wicked thing, the Friendship is bad and vicious. If we love a vain and frivolous thing, as Beauty, good Behavior, the Friendship is frivolous and impertinent. If we love a good thing, the Friendship is good and laudable. Now this good thing must be a real Vertue, or a Perfection which may advance Vertue, as Science, a good Nature, or the like.

Friendship to be good and real,Three Conditi­ons of Friend­ship to be good. ought to have three Conditions, which you must observe well. It must be founded upon Vertue, Tending to Vertue, and Conduct­ed by Vertue.

1. It must be built upon Vertue, that is, we must love a Friend by reason of some good and laudable Quality, which we know in him.

2. Tending to Vertue, because Friend­ship ought to desire and procure the Good of a Friend. Now Vertue is the greatest and most necessary of all Goods: And the Friendship by which Friends procure Fa­vors to one another, if it neglect mutually to advance Vertue according to its power, is not a Friendship, but a manifest Deceit.

3. It ought to be directed by Vertue, that is, Vertue ought to be the Rule of it,Amicus usque ad aras. and a Friend should do nothing to a Friend which may be contrary to Vertue. Friend­ship which causes God to be offended by a Friend, is a detestable and cursed Friend­ship, because it makes one love Man more than God.

By these three Conditions, Theotime, you will easily discern good Friendship from evil, and those you ought to fly, from those you ought to seek.

You ought to fly the Friendship of those in whom you find no Vertue, nor any Per­fection which you may love, as also the Friendship of those you know to be sub­ject to any Vice, as to Impurity, Drun­kenness, Swearing, whose Friendship will make you learn their wicked Quallties; because, as the Wiseman says,Amicus stul­torum similis efficietur. Prov. 13. A Friend of Fools, that is, of vicious People, will be­come like them.

Fly all Friendship which doth not tend to make you better. Such is the Friend­ship of those who search after nothing in your Love but their own Profit, or some vain Complacence they take in loving you, or being belov'd by you; of those, who when they can, do not advertise you of your Good and Salvation. But above all, abhor the Friendship of those who solicit you to Sin,Vir iniquus lactat a micum suum & ducit eum per viam non bonam. Prov. 16. or flatter and cherish you in the Vi­ces you have. You ought to avoid these Friends, as your greatest and most mortal Enemies.

Avoid the Company of all those who scruple not to offend God for your sake, and to please you; for Example, to Rob, to Cheat, to Quarrel, to Swear, to De­tract, to treat ill their Neighbor, to Chal­lenge in a Duel, and other such like things. Have a horror for these Friendships, and account that Maxim for certain,Non potest homini esse a­micus qui Deo fuerit infidus. S. Amb. 3. Offic. cap. 19. That he who is unfaithful to God, cannot be a Friend to a Man; And altho' he might, yet you cannot adhere to that Friendship, without making your self an Enemy to God.

On the contrary, seek after the Friend­ship of those who you know carry them­selves well, and are endow'd with some good Qualities,Melior est manisesta cor­reptio, quam amor abscon­ditus. Melio­ra sunt vulne­ra diligentis quam fraudu­lenta oscula odio habentis. Prov. 29. by which you may profit, who will move you to Vertue by their Example and good Discourses, who will assist you therein by their Counsels, not flatter you in your Vices, but freely and charitably admonish you; And in fine, those who in their Friendship have the Fear of God for their Rule, and your greatest and most desirable Good, which is your Amendment and Salvation for their principal End. These, Theotime, are the good and real Friendships you must by so much more seek after, as they are most rare, and carefully entertain when you have found them. These are the Friendships whereof the Wiseman speaks, when he says, thatAmicus fide­lis protectio fortis, qui in­venit illum invenit the­saurum; amico fideli nulla est comparatio, amicus fidelis medicamen­tum vitae & immortalita­tis. Eccl. 6. A faithful Friend is a strong Protection, and he who hath found him hath found a Treasure; he is more worth than all Gold and Silver, he is a Medicine [Page 369]for Life and Immortality. Ne derelin­quas amicum antiquum, no­vus enim non erit similis. Eccl. 6. Love and seek after these Friendships, apply your self to find them, and when you have met with one, conserve him carefully, and abandon him not for a light changeable Mind, as young People ordinarily do.

To find this Friendship, remember First to demand it often of God, for he is the Author of it, and He who fears him, Qui timet Dominum aeque habebit amicitiam bo­nam. Eccl. 6. says the Wiseman, will find it. In the Second place, be careful to love first, for you must love to be belov'd: But this Love must be such an one as we have said, built upon Vertue, tend­ing to Vertue, and directed by Vertue.

Of Sports and Recreations.

REcreation is necessary to relax the Spirits, and particularly of young People; and that which is taken in Sports is most proper for them, it being more proportion'd to their Nature, and the Capacity of their Mind.

Pastime then and Recreation is not con­trary to Vertue, but rather commanded, and it is an Action of Vertue when it is done as it ought.

To be such,The Motive of Sport. it is necessary before all things that the Motive of it be good; that is, that it be taken to recreate the Mind, and to make it more capable of Labor, which it could not be able to undergo, if it were always employ'd. So that Labor [Page 370]is the End and Motive of Sport and Re­creation.

From thence three Conditions follow,Three Conditi­ons to be ob­serv'd. which must be observ'd in Play, that it may be good and vertuous.

The First,Moderation. To keep therein a civil Mo­deration; for if it be taken in excess, it is no more a Recreation, but rather an Em­ployment; it is not to Play to be made more fit for Labor, which is the sole End Pastime ought to have, but only for Plea­sure, which is a vicious End; yea, it is to make one unsit for Labor, because excess of Play dissipates the Spirits, enfeebles the Forces of the Body, and oftentimes consi­derably prejudices the Health by the Di­stempers it causes.

The Second Condition is,An orderly Af­fection. Not to have a disorderly Affection to Play, as it hap­pens frequently to young Persons. This Affection makes them fall into the Excess we spoke of, lose much Time, think con­tinually of the Means to divert themselves. It is the cause that they almost never ap­ply themselves seriously to Labor, and when their Body is at Study, their Mind is at their Sport and Divertisement.

The Third Condition is,Avoiding the Cames of Ha­zard. To fly as much as possible the Plays of Hazard; such Plays keep the Mind too much ty'd to them, principally young Peoples: They serve not to recreate the Spirits, but to give them more disturbance; It is hard to ob­serve therein a Moderation, one is so en­gag'd either by Loss or Gain. They Play [Page 371]there only out of Covetousness,The bad Effects of Play. and to gain, which is a wicked End; Add the or­dinary Losses one suffers, which leave after them Displeasure, Vexation, and Despair: Joyn to these the Cheats, unjust Gains, Choler, Swearing, Quarrels, of which these sorts of Plays are ordinarily full; The excessive loss of Time, the dissipation of Mind and Goods, the wicked Habits of Anger, of Impatience, of Swearing, of Lying, of Covetousness, and many others, which Play produces; The disorderly In­clination to Play which continues all their Life, and frequently ruins their Possessions and Honor, and reduces them to extream Miseries, as we daily see but by too many Examples, and in fine, makes a Man inca­pable of any Good.

Avoid these Sports, Theotime, Practice. as abso­lutely contrary to your Salvation and Hap­piness, and addict not your self but to ho­nest Pastimes, which serve for the Diver­tisement of the Mind, or Exercise of the Body, observing therein the Conditions we have spoken of, and chiefly keeping your self from Excesses, whichRelaxaban­tur etiam mi­hi ad luden­dum habenae ultra tempe­ramentum se­veritatis in dissolutionem affectionum variarum. S. Aug. lib. 2. Confes. S. Augustin in his Confessions acknowledg'd to be one of the Causes of the depravation of his Youth. Now this Excess is understood not only of the Time employ'd therein, which ought to be well regulated, but also of the Mony you Play, which ought always to be very little; otherwise you will Play for Gain, and not for Recreation, and the Sport will be a Hell and Disquiet, rather [Page 372]than a Divertisement. Besides, the Mo­ny you lose at Play, would be better em­ploy'd amongst the Poor, whose Necessi­ties will cry one day to God for your Ex­cesses, and against those of all Gamesters.

Of Liberality against Covetousness.

ALtho' it may seem that Covetousness is not an ordinary Vice amongst young Persons,Youth must be arm'd against Covetousness. yet it is very necessary to arm them against this Passion, which ea­sily taking root in young Souls, is insensi­bly augmented, and causes vast Disorders in their Life.

There are two sorts of Covetousness;Two sorts of Covetousness. The one, which makes us love Mony, to heap it up, to get Treasures and Purcha­ses; The other, which makes us affect it, to dispose and employ it for our proper Pleasures. The First is very rare amongst young People, but the Second is very ordinary with them, and highly preju­dicial.

Experience makes appear that it is or­dinary with them;How ordinary among young Persons. for as they earnestly love their Pleasures, they seek after all Means to satisfie them, which cannot be effected without Mony: From hence it comes that they apply all their Endeavors to get it; From hence the Cheats and Tricks they make use of towards their [Page 373]Parents, to get it from them; From hence their Cozening in Play, their Hard-heart­edness to the Poor, and sometimes Robbe­ries and unjust Ways to procure it; From hence the love of Riches, which we see in young Spirits, the desires of great For­tunes, the imaginary Designs they lay to purchase them.

This Passion having thus taken its be­ginning in Youth, easily increases,How prejudi­cial. and strengthening it self by Age becomes so strangely rooted, that it can never be pull'd up all the remainder of their Life. And it causes that so general a Disorder which is found amongst Christians, and which the Prophet deplores when he says, thatA minore usque ad ma­jorem omnes avaritiae stu­dent. Jer. 16.13. From the least to the greatest, all are given to Covetousness; that is, to the irregular love of the things of the World, whichRadix omnium malorum est cupiditas. 1 Tim. 6. S. Paul says is The root of all Evils.

This Vice takes its origin from three Causes in Youth. The First is,Three Causes of Avarice in young Men. what we have now spoken of. The Second is, the common Example of the World, which they see loves and esteems Mony above all things, and runs after it with insatiable greediness. The Third is the Fault of Pa­rents, who inspire this Love into their Chil­dren from their tender Years, Discoursing of nothing but the Care to get their Liveli­hood, if they be Mean or Poor, or of advan­cing and aspiring to a higher Fortune, if they be Rich; teaching thus their Children [Page 374]that which S. Cyprian reproaches them for, that is,Filios tuos do­ces patrimo­nium magis a­mare quam Christum. S. Cypr. lib. de oper. Eleem. To love more their Riches than Jesus Christ; and to labor in such a manner for the Goods of this mortal Life, that they think little or nothing on the Eternal.

This Evil, dear Theotime, must be pre­vented in good time,It must be pre­vented betimes. and hindred from ta­king possession of your Heart, it being cer­tain, that there is no Vice which increases more with Age than this, and which be­comes more incapable of remedy. For this Effect take notice of what I counsel you.

1.First Means. Being, as we have said, that the greatest Cause of this Covetousness in young People, springs from the love of Pleasures, use all your Endeavors to mo­derate that Passion, which may be said to be one of the greatest Mischiefs of Youth, the Cause of all the Misfortunes it com­mits, and the chiefest Obstacle of all the Good it can do. In the Name of God pass not from this Place without making Re­flections upon it.

2.Second Means. That the love of Mony may not take possession of your Soul, think often of that great Maxim of St. Paul, that Cove­tousness is the root of all Evil. These Evils are the Sins of the World, and the Mis­fortunes with which it is replenish'd, whereof the greatest part springs from this wicked Cause, as it would be easie to make it appear.

3.Third Means. Be persuaded, that Riches damn many of the World, be they Rich or Poor; the Rich by the ill Use, the Poor by Co­vetousness. [Page 375] Know, says the same Apostle,Hoc scitote, intelligentes quod omnis fornicator, aut immundus, aut avarus, quod est idolorum servitus, non habet haereditatem in regno Christi & Dei. Ephes. 5. that the Covetous hath no part in the King­dom of God.

4.Fourth Means. Accustom your self not to desire Mo­ny but for your Necessity, and for your civil and modest Recreations; and when you lack it, bear that Want with Pati­ence, considering how many Poor there are who have not Necessaries, and that you are no better than they. Above all, never make use of Deceits, Surprises, nor any other unlawful way of getting it.

5.Fifth Means. Avoid certain Actions which are the Marks or Effects of Avarice in young Peo­ple, and which excite it much, as to Play for Gain, to be too fearful of losing at Play, to Dispute for a small thing, to keep any thing from another, and much more never to take any thing, be it what it will, which is, besides the Sin committed, a damnable Custom, and of very dangerous Consequence.

6. Love the Poor, give Alms freely,Sixth Means. abridge some part of the Mony you have for your Recreations, to supply their Ne­cessities. Is it not a shame in you to be pro­digal in your Pleasures, in your Clothes, in your Superfluities, and to be so Cove­tous, so hard for the Necessities of the Poor, who are Men like you, Christians like you, and sometimes better than you in the sight of God? My Child, said the [Page 376]good old Toby to his Son,Ex substantia tua fac elee­mosynam, & noli avertere faciem tuam ab ullo pau­pere, ita enim fiet, ut nec à te a vertatur facies Domi­ni. Quomo­do potueris, ita esto mise­ricors: si mul­tum tibi fue­rit, abundan­ter tribue: si exiguum tibi fuerit etiam exiguum libenter imper­tiri stude. Praemium enim bonum tibi thesaurizas in die necessita­tis. Quoniam eleemosyna ab omni peccato & à morte liberat, & non patietur animam ire in tenebras. Fiducia magna erit coram summo Deo eleemosyna omnibus facientibus eam. Tob. 4. give Alms of thy Substance, and turn not thy Face from any Poor, lest God turn his Face from thee. Give Alms according to thy ability; if thou hast but little, be not afraid to give a little; for thou layest up a good Store for thy self against the day of necessity: Because Alms delivers from Death, and suffereth not the Soul to come into Darkness; for Alms is a good Gift before the most High to all them who use it. Consider well these Words, Theotime, and engrave them deeply in your Mind.

In fine, you are either Poor, or of a mean Fortune, or Rich.

If you be Poor, beg of God the Grace to take your Poverty with Patience for Pe­nance, and for his Love. Confide in his Providence, which will never be wanting to his Servants.Si soenum a­gri sic vestit Deus. quanto magis vos modicae fidei? Quaerite ergo primum reg­num Dei & justitiam ejus & haec omnia adjicientur vobis. Mat. 6. If God hath care of the least Creatures, according to the Saying of our Lord, how much more will he have of you? Seek then, says he, first the Kingdom of Hea­ven, and all things necessary shall be given you. Read the Sixth Chapter of S. Matth. from Verse 24.

If you be of a mean Fortune, have a care to be content, and not to disquiet your self by the desire of a greater. Call to mind what S. Paul says,Qui volunt divites fieri, incidunt in tentationem & in laqueos Diaboli, & in desideria mul­ta inutilia & nociva quae mergunt homines in interitum; radix enim omnium malorum est cupiditas. 1 Tim. 6. that Those who desire to be Rich, fall into temptation, and snares of the Devil, and into many wicked Desires which plunge them in perdition, because Cove­tousness is the root of all Evil.

Wherefore practise the best you can that great Maxim which the same Apostle gives to Christians,Sint mores sine avaritia contenti prae­sentibus, ipse enim dixit non te dese­ram. Heb. 6. Let there be no Cove­tousness in your Manners, being contented with the Goods you possess, being God hath said, I will not forsake you.

If you be Rich, stand in great fear of your Riches for your Salvation.Vae vobis di­vitibus, quia habetis conso­lationem ve­stram. Luc. 6. Wo be to the Rich, says the Son of God, because they have here their Consolation. Upon the oca­sion of a rich young Man he said, that it is very difficult for the Rich to be Saved. To avoid the Dangers thereof, read and pra­ctise what we have said in the Chapter of the Obstacles of rich young Persons, in Part 3. Chap. 10.

Of Humility.

I Have reserv'd this Vertue for the last, as that which gives Perfection to all [Page 378]others, and which is necessary to conserve them, and make them increase in young Souls.

Pride is an inordinate Esteem of ones self,Pride creeps easily into young Minds. is most pernicious to all Men, but particularly to young Persons; It natu­rally creeps into their Mind, according to the measure that they advance in Age, in Vertue, in Science, or such other Perfecti­ons which they have, or think they have; It makes them incapable of all good Im­pressions, and opens them the way to all sorts of Vices.

My Child, Superbiam nunquam in tuo sensu, aut tuo verbo do­minari per­mittas; in ip­sa enim initi­um sumpsit omnis perditio. Tob. 4. Initium omnis peccati est superbia. Eccl. 10. have a care that Pride never bear dominion in your Thoughts or Words, because from it all the Misfortunes of the World arise, said the holy Man Toby to his Son.

I say unto you also,Pride must be repressed by Humility. Theotime, preserve your self from Pride, permit it not to take possession of your Mind, banish it far from you, Humility is necessary for you. Not a Humility of Behavior or Words, but a true, solid, interior Humility; an Humi­lity which renders you humble in these three manners,Three sorts of Humility. in your self, towards God, and towards Men.

1.1. In ones self. Be humble in your self, that is, in your own proper Esteem; Value not your self for any thing whatsoever, neither for your Riches, nor for your Quality, nor Beauty or good Behavior; for the Glory [Page 379]one takes in these things is base and im­pertinent, and belongs only to vain Spirits; Nor for your Wit or Science, for these are the Gifts of God, and you offer him an Injury when you raise your self Esteem from thence; Nor much less for Vertue, for it springs far less from you, and he who glories therein, puts himself in danger of absolutely losing it. Besides, we often imagin we have Perfections which we have not; and when we find in our selves any Advantage, we ought to give the Glory to God, who is the Author of it, and not to our selves, who have receiv'd it, and say from our Heart, Non nobis, Domine, Psal. 113. non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.

It is an excellent Maxim of S. Bernard, Gloriam me­am alteri non dabo, quid er­go dabis Do­mine? Quid dabis nobis? Pacem, inquit, do vobis, pa­cem relinquo vobis. Sufficit mihi, gratan­ter accipio quod relin­quis, & relin­quo quod re­tines, sic pla­cet, sic mea in­teresse non dubito. Abju­ro gloriam prorsus, ne forte si usurpavero non concessam, perdam merito & oblatam. Pacem volo, pacem desidero, & nihil amplius. Cui non sufficit pax, non sufficis tu; tu es enim pax nostra, qui secisti utraque unum. Et infra. Gloria in Excelsis Deo, in terra Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. At vero non bonae sed planae ini­quae voluntatis est, qui nequaquam pace contentus, superbo oculo & insatiabili corde inquietus anhelat ad gloriam Dei, nec pacem proinde retinens nec gloriam apprehendens. S. Bern. Serm. 13. in Cant. which ought to be deeply engraven in your Mind, That amongst all the Favors God hath bestow'd upon us, he hath reserv'd nothing to himself but the Glory of being the Author of them; and having commit­ted to us the whole Fruit of them, it is a very unjust and criminal thing, that we should take to our selves the Profit and al­so the Glory of them, retaining our Part, and usurping that which belongs to God, after he hath declar'd that he would give it to no one; I will not give, says he, my Glory to another. Weigh well this Refle­ction, Theotime.

2.2. Towards God. Be humble towards God in conside­ration of his incomprehensible Greatness, before which you are nothing in contem­plation of that Power,Substantia mea tanquam nihilum ante te. Psal. 38. of that Sovereign Majesty, which makes the Angels them­selves to tremble. Acknowledge the Of­fences you have committed against this infinite Greatness, the Favors which with­out number you have received from his Bounty, the Abuses you have offer'd it, the Account you must give in his Judgment, the Necessity you have of his Graces for your Salvation, with a thousand like things, and you will find reason enough to humble your self, or rather annihilate your self before God.

3.3. Towards Men. Be humble towards Men. There are those who are humble towards God, (for how should not a wretched Creature a­base it self before its Creator, its Lord and its Judg?) but they are proud in respect of Men, and so have not true Humility. To practise this Humility, be careful never to despise any Person, and be ready to honor every one amongst Men: Some are above you, others equal to you, others Inferiors.

As to the First,Respect towards Superiors. be Respectful, Tracta­ble, and Obedient to all those who have any Authority over you. Suffer humbly to be reprehended, if you do otherwise, you are proud. Honor also all those who sur­pass [Page 381]you in any thing, in Age, in Science, in Quality.

As for your Equals,Towards E­quals. endeavor to treat them always with Esteem, with Honor, with Deference, without being well-con­ceited of your self, without being offended at his Rank of Honor, nor desiring to precede; you must leave these Vanities to those who affect them.

As for your Inferiors,Towards Infe­riors. be mild and be­nign to all those who Serve you, consider­ing them as your Brethren.Et vos, do­mini eadem facite illis, re­mittentes mi­nas, scientes quia illorum & vester Do­minus est in coelis, & per­sonarum ac­ceptio non est a pud eum. Ephes. 6.9. And you, Masters, (says the Apostle S. Paul) treat sweetly your Servants, refraining from Threats, remembring that you have a common Master with them in Heaven, who hath no respect of Persons. Shew your self humble and affable to all others that are of a meaner Condition than you, according to that excellent Precept of the Wiseman,Congrega­tioni paupe­rum affabilem te facito. Be affable to the company of the Poor; be ready to serve and assist them in their Necessities.

In fine, A great Means to repress Pride, is to consider what Man is, his Baseness, his Miseries, the shortness of Life, and what follows after Death.Quid super­bis terra & cinis? omnis Potentatus vita brevis; Rex hodie est & cras morie­tur, cum mo­rietur homo haereditabit serpentes, bestias & vermes. Eccl. 10. Dust and Ashes, what dost thou glory in? says the Wiseman. All Authority is but of a short continuance. To day a King, to morrow no­thing; and when Man shall be dead, he will inherit Beasts, Serpents, and Worms. O God what a Motive is this of Pride!

Respect not, Theotime, many exterior things, which environ you, and raise in you Pride and Vanity, but consider what you are in your self, and you will find rea­son enough to be humble; It is the Advice S. Bernard gives you in those excellent Verses which I shall present to you, to meditate attentively on.

Forma favor populi,
S. Bern. Medit. cap. 3.
fervor juvenilis, opes­que
Subripuere tibi, noscere quid sit homo.
Ʋnde superbit homo? Cujus conceptio culpa,
Nasci paena, labor vita, necesse Mori.
Post hominem vermis; post vermem faetor & horror:
Sic in non hominem vertitur omnis homo.
Youth and Beauty, Wealth, and th' Worlds Applause,
Make Man forget his Nature, and her Laws.
His Life's a Toil, Conception Sin, a Pain
His Birth, and needs must die. Why then so vain?
His Crops will Worms possess; and Stench and Dread
Will Worms succeed. See then what's Man when dead!

The Meaning is, That if Man will con­sider himself attentively, he will find rea­son enough to repress his Pride; he will find that his Conception casts him into Sin, [Page 383]his Birth into Misery, that his Life is a continu'd Chain of Labors, that Death is an unavoidable Necessity, and that after Death he shall possess nothing but Stench, Corruption and Horror, as to his Body. But as for his Soul, she is to be presented before the Judgment of God, to receive there the Decree of her Eternal Happi­ness or Misery; and this Judgment shall be terrible to the greatest Saints.

Of the Choice of a State of Life.

THIS Instruction would be im­perfect, and destitute of one of the best and most necessary Parts, if after having shew'd how we must live during Youth, it should not direct how to make a good Choice of the Condition or State wherein one ought to pass the remainder of his Life. This Choice is a Subject, whose Knowledge is by so much more necessary to young Persons, as its Importance is un­known to the greatest part of Men, and the Faults that are there committed are most commonly irreparable; or if some­times [Page 385]they be repair'd, it is with very great pains and difficulty. Besides, they are not light or of small consequence, because the issues of them are extended to all the Life of a Man, and pass even to his Eternal Salvation, of which they often draw the ruin after them. For this reason, Theo­time, I beseech you read attentively this last Part, whether before you enter upon this Deliberation, or when you shall be at the Point of making your Choice, and al­so after you have made it; for you will find therein whereby to profit at each of those Times.

How important it is to make a good Choice of a State of Life.

THIS Importance is built upon two Truths,Two Funda­mental Truths in this matter. which are to be supposed here as Fundamental in this matter.

The First is, That altho' all States may be good, yet all States are not good for every one; and that such a State is profitable for one Man which will be hurt­ful for another, all not having the same Inclinations, nor the same Capacities, nor the same Favors of God.

The Second is, That God who hath Establish'd by his Providence the diver­sity of States and Employments of the Life of Man, distributes them differently [Page 386]by his Wisdom, designing some for one Employment, others for another: As a Father of a Family divides amongst his Domesticks the Offices of his House, ac­cording as he finds them fit. For this rea­son he gives to Men different Inclinations, divers natural Abilities, as well Corporal as Spiritual; and also distributes amongst them his Favors diversly, according to the several Necessities of different States, to which he calls them.

These two Truths thus presuppos'd, evidently manifest how important it is to choose well ones State and Condition: For if all States are not good for all, it is then most important to choose advisedly, that we may not fall into a State which may be contrary to us. And if God call each Man to one State more particularly than another, it follows that we must proceed therein with a great Circumspe­ction, to choose what is most conformable to his Will, and for which he hath given us most Capacity, and prepar'd most Fa­vors.

This choice is of such consequence,How important the Choice of a State is. that on it depends all the Good of a Man, both for this Life, and for Eternal Salvation. Be attentive, Theotime, to comprehend the Mischiefs into which all ill Choice of a Condition casts Men, and into which it will cast you, if you be defective therein.

First,1. For the pre­sent Life. for the present Life, What Good, what Contentment can he have, who is enter'd into a State which he hath ill cho­sen, [Page 387]and for which he is not proper? There is no Condition more miserable. The Displeasure of seeing himself engag'd a­gainst his Inclination, joyn'd with the Difficulties he undergoes to acquit himself of his Duty, casts him into a Disquiet and Melancholy, which incessantly gnaws him, makes him insupportable to others, and himself, and find in his Condition a more horrid Prison than that of Criminals, and Chains more unmerciful than those of Gally-slaves.

As for Salvation,2. For Salva­tion. what can a Man do in that State? For besides that Melancholy casts him into a continual Idleness, and that Idleness into Vice and Perdition; With what trouble must he effect his Sal­vation in a State wherein he hath neither Ability, nor Vocation from God? The want of these two things are the Causes why he will commit an infinit number of sins, which he would not have done in ano­ther State. The defect of Capacity makes him find continual Difficulties in satisfy­ing his Duty, and the particular Obliga­tion of his State. The defect of Vocati­on is the Cause why he wants many Fa­vors he should have receiv'd in another Calling, and of which he is made unwor­thy, being enter'd rashly into this Condi­tion, without consulting God, without de­manding of him his Will. And certainly, if we search into the Cause of the Disor­ders we see in each State, Ecclesiastical, Religious, and Secular, wherein many [Page 388]discharge themselves of their Duty very badly, we shall find the greatest part of the Mischiefs spring from this Source, that is, from an ill Entrance into a State of Life; and that the greatest part enter upon slight Grounds, without Examining whether they are proper for it, and call'd by God.

For a Conclusion of this Importance,A profitable Advice. I exhort all those who deliberate about the Choice of their State, attentively to re­flect upon these three things.

  • 1. Upon the Displeasure and Sadness they will feel all their Life, for having made an ill Choice of their Calling.
  • 2. The great number of Sins they will commit in a State they had lightly cho­sen, and which they would not have com­mitted in another Condition.
  • 3. The Danger to which they expose their Salvation, in choosing after this man­ner.

They who will attentively consider these three things, will take care not to be defective in an Affair of this Importance.

Of the Faults that are ordinarily committed in this Choice.

I Find four sorts of Faults which young Men are accustom'd to fall into,Four ordinary Faults in this Choice. in this so important a Choice, which are the [Page 389]Causes why they succeed therein so very badly.

First,1. They delibe­rate not. They deliberate not at all upon this Choice, and instead of choosing a State according to the Rules of Reason, and af­ter a long and serious Deliberation, they engage themselves in a Calling sometimes by a sudden Passion and Fancy, sometimes by Occasion, and frequently by the sole Inclination they feel to one Condition ra­ther than another, without Examining whether they are proper for it, whether it be for their Good, and whether they shall effect therein their Salvation.

Secondly, When they deliberate,2. They delibe­rate ill. they propose things naughtily, that is, upon ill Grounds, and regard other Ends than such as they ought to have before their Eyes in this Deliberation. Some look upon the Sweetness of Life in the State they would embrace; Others upon Riches and Pre­ferment; Others upon Honor and Repu­tation; And in a word, all regard Tem­poral Goods, and the present Life; but few propose Vertue and Eternal Salvati­on, which chiefly, and before all things ought to be consider'd. One says, This is proper to promote me in the World, and advance my Fortune; but he doth not say it is fit to promote me in Vertue, and effect my Salvation; or else it is not suta­ble to me, because I foresee I shall offend God in many Occurrences; I see therein Ob­ligations I cannot satisfie, many Occasions and Dangers of ruining me.

This Fault is great, and against all Rea­son; for, to deliberate wisely of the State wherein we must spend our Life, we must cast our Eye upon the End for which our Life is given us: This End is the Service of God, and the Salvation of our Souls. We must then refer the Calling we choose to that; to do otherwise is to stray out of the Way at the beginning, and suffer Ship­wreck in the Port.

The Third Fault is,3. Without Counsel. That in delibera­ting on the Condition they ought to em­brace, they only consult with themselves, without communicating, or asking Coun­sel of any one. This Fault is very com­mon amongst young People, and besides, one of the greatest they can commit in this Choice: For what appearance is there of deliberating well of the most important Affair of our Life, in an Age wherein we have as yet neither Judgment nor Experi­ence of any thing, without taking Counsel of wise and discreet Persons? This can­not but be the effect of an insupportable Rashness, or certainly of a great Igno­rance, which deserves so much more com­passion, as it is the cause of many Mischiefs. If the Wiseman recommend so much to young People,Ne innita­ris prudentiae tuae. Prov. 3. Fili, sine consi­lio nihil faci­as, & post fa­ctum non poe­nitebit. Eccl. 32. Not to trust to their own Judgment, to do nothing without Counsel, is it not in this so important Affair, more than in any other, where they ought to follow the Advice of the Holy Ghost him­self? Observe well this Fault, for the De­vil oft makes use of it to deceive young [Page 391]Persons in the Choice of their Calling. We shall tell you hereafter with what kind of Persons you should consult in this Con­cern.

There is a Fourth Fault yet more dan­gerous,4. They consult not God. which is, That in this Delibera­tion they consult not him who ought to be consulted with above all others, viz. God himself: They have no recourse to him by Prayer, humbly to demand of him his holy Inspirations, and Grace to know his Will, altho' it be by him alone that we can succeed well in this Choice. He is the Father of Lights, he is the Author of good Counsels. Besides, it belongs to him to give us our Calling, and the Employment wherein he would have us serve him in this Life, we must receive it from his Hands. He hath a mind that we should have recourse to him, and to advise with him in important Affairs; he accounts himself offended when we are defective therein, and frequently he gives us not his Blessing. See a convincing Example.

The Israelites, desirous to sly the Perse­cution of their Enemies, took a Resolution to return into Egypt, out of their own Heads, without consulting God to know what they should do. He reproach'd them exceedingly by his Prophet, and threatned them that their Design should not succeed, but have a dreadful issue, as in effect it had.Vae filii de­serteres, ut faceretis con­filium, & non ex me ordire­mini telam, & non per spiri­tum meum, ut adderetis pec­catum super peccatum, qui ambulatis ut descendatis in Aegyptum, & os meum non interrogastis, erit vobis fortitudo Pharaonis in confusionem, & fiducia umbrae Aegyptiae in ignomini­am. Isai. 30. Wo, says he, be to you fugitive Children, who abandon me to enter upon a Design without consulting me, and to begin an Enterprise [Page 392]without expecting my Will; adding to your for­mer Sins a new one, of taking your Resolution without my Counsel. Your Design shall turn to your Misfortune and Confusion. I would to God all those who deliberate of the Choice of their State, had frequently these Words in their Memory.

Of the Means to choose well a State of Life. And First, That a good Life during Youth, is a Means highly necessary to succeed in this Choice.

AFter having shew'd you the Faults which are accustom'd to be commit­ted in the Choice of a Condition, I come to the Means you must employ to succeed therein.

The First I assign you, is a Means on which few Persons reflect, altho' it be most important in this Affair, viz. A good Life during the time of Youth.

I promote this Means,The Sins of Youth the cause of an ill Choice. Theotime, to teach you betimes a Truth which the greatest part of Men are ignorant of, or learn it too late, which is, That there is no greater Obstacle to the Choice of a happy Call­ing, than the Sins of Youth; and that the most ordinary Cause of the bad Election [Page 393]many make of their Condition, is a disor­der'd Life, and full of Sins, which they lead whilst they are young.

It is not hard to manifest this Truth,The Proof. which many experience daily too much, God, in punishment of their Sins, not af­fording them the Favor to know the Call­ing proper for them, abandons them in this Choice of so great Importance, as they have deserted his Service: He denies them high Light, as they have refus'd him their Obedience and Love. They have given their first Years to the Devil, and God permits also that the Devil should deceive them in this Election, making them un­dertake a State contrary to their Good. And as they would not hearken to the Voice of his Commandments, and holy In­spirations, he also gives not ear unto them when they have need of his Assistance.In vocabunt me & non ex­audiam, ma­ne consurgent & non inveni­ent me eo quod exosam habuerint disciplinam, & timorem Domini non susceperint. Prov. 3. They shall call upon me, says he, and I will not hear them, they shall seek after me, and shall not find me; because they have hated Instruction, and have not receiv'd the Fear of God.

The Scripture is also full of the like Me­naces, by which God assures us he will deny his Light to those who have made them­selves unworthy by their Sins. Those Threats which were utter'd by the Mouth of the Prophet Ezechiel are astonishing. Many Persons of Quality being come to [Page 394]this Prophet, to consult God by his Medi­ation, God speaks to the Prophet and tells him,Fili hominis, viri isti posue­runt immun­ditias suas in cordibus suis, nunquid in­terrogatus respondebo eis? Homo, homo de do­mo Israel, qui posuerit im­munditias su­as in corde suo. Et vene­rit ad Prophe­tam interro­gans per eum, me. Ego Dominus respondebo ei, in multitudine immunditiarum suarum. Ezech. 14. That he would not answer them, that is, he would not let them know his Will, because they were wicked, and still kept their Wickedness in their Hearts. He adds, That whosoever should come to his Prophet, to know by him his Will, bearing also his Sins in his Heart, without having entirely parted with them, he would answer him according to the multitude of his Iniquities; that is, he would not answer him at all, but would permit that he should be deceiv'd in his Resolution, and that the Event should be misfortunate, as his Sins deserv'd.

The History of Kings furnishes us with a terrible Example of this Verity in the Person of Saul first King of Israel. A notable Ex­ample, 1 Reg. 28. This Prince had excited the Choler of God a­gainst him, by his Disobediences and In­gratitudes. One day he found himself re­duc'd to a great Extremity, environ'd by his Enemies with this Army, and in the necessity of either engaging in a Fight, or infallibly perishing. Not knowing what to resolve on, he sends to the Priests and Prophets to consult God, and know what he must do in this so pressing an Occasion. But God, who was displeas'd at him, an­swer'd nothing, nor made his Will known to Priest or Prophet.Consuluit Dominum, & non respondit ei neque per Somnia, neque per Sacerdo­tes, neque per Prophetas. He consults God, says the Scripture, who answer'd nothing, [Page 395]neither by Dreams, nor Priests, nor Prophets. This misfortunate Prince seeing himself thus abandon'd by God, is wholly bent on a Resolution Despair prompted. He goes himself to consult a Witch, and asks of her that she would bring him to the sight of the Ghost of Samuel, who was dead a little before, and had been a Father and Dire­ctor to him. Happy had he been, if he had always follow'd the Counsel of that Man of God. God permits that this wicked Means should succeed, and the Ghost of Samuel appear'd to him, but it was only that he might learn from him his Misfor­tune.Quid me interrogas cum Dominus recesserit à te? faciet e­nim tibi Do­minus sicut lo­cutus est in manu mea. Quia non obe­disti voci Do­mini idcirco quod pateris fecit tibi Do­minus hodie. Et dabit Dominus etiam Israel in manu Philistim, cras autem tu & filii tui mecum eritis. Why dost thou ask me, said Samuel to him, since God hath forsaken thee? Know, that God will accomplish in thee all that he hath foretold by my Mouth, because thou hast not obey'd his Voice; and it is in punishment of that Disobedience that he hath abandon'd thee in this Necessity, and not answer'd thee to Day; and besides, before to Morrow pass, thou shalt be conquer'd by thy Enemies, and shalt die together with thy Children. All which punctually fell out.

O what a frightful Example is this! to manifest the Truth we here establish'd, of the Rejection of God in the most ur­gent Necessities, in punishment of former Sins. And I would to God it were as rare as it is terrible, and that it were not daily renew'd in so many young Persons, whom [Page 396]God abandons in this so important an Affair, of the Choice of their Calling, by reason of the Sins of their Youth; for what else is it which we see in many? Some choose a State quite contrary to their Good and Salvation, and which is often the cause of either their Temporal or Eternal Ruin. Others continue in a long and per­petual Irresolution, which hinders them from resolving upon any State or Condi­tion, and makes them lose the best part of their Life, which they spend thus in Idle­ness, and frequently in Vice. Others toss'd with a perpetual Inconstancy, are displea­sed in all sorts of Callings; have scarce made choice of one, but seek after and de­sire another, which hinders them from ever succeeding in any. Are not all these things, I say, visible and manifest Effects of the Punishment of God for the Sins com­mitted in Youth? And we may say with truth to every one of them, as Samuel to Saul, Quia non credidisti voci Domini, id­circo quod pateris, fecit tibi Dominus hodie; That which thou sufferest at present, is in pu­nishment of the Disobediences thou hast com­mitted against God.

For Conclusion, Theotime, I give you this Advertisement, which you can never relfect on too much. If you be not already at the Time and Age of choosing your State, have a care to live so in the Fear of God, and in the Flight of Sin, that you deserve not to be abandon'd of his Assi­stance, when you shall be at the time of [Page 397]making this so important a Choice, but draw upon you, by your good Life, his Blessing to succeed happily therein.

Now if you be at the Time of making this Choice, take notice how you have liv'd hitherto, before you deliberate con­cerning it: And if your Life hath been sinful, have a care of choosing yet, but first take time to amend your Life, to do Pe­nance, and to be entirely converted to God, to the end your sins may not be the Cause why God deserts you in this Choice. I tell you, Theotime, if you make your Election in that State, you expose your self to evi­dent danger of deceiving your self, and succeeding misfortunately in the Choice you shall make.

That to succeed well in the Choice of a State of Life, it is most important to think of it before one be in the Time of Choosing.

AS the Choice of a Condition concerns the whole Life, it must not be done in a Day, or a short time, nor without having thought on it a long time before. We must dispose our selves a great while for an Affair of such consequence, that we may judge of it more seriously when we shall be at the point of Deliberating, and find less Difficulties, and also more Assi­stance from God in this so important a Deliberation

For this effect you have three things to do,Three things to be done. except you be at the Time of delibe­rating upon this Choice.

The First is to live Vertuously,1. To Live well. that you may not render your self unworthy of the Divine Favors for that Time, as we have said.

The Second is,2. To pray for that end. to offer your Prayers fre­quently to God for that end; to demand often, that he would do you the Kindness to make you know the Condition wherein he would have you serve him.Notum fac mihi viam in qua ambulem, quia ad te le­vavi animam meam, doce me facere voluntatem tuam. Psal. 142. Make me, O God, know the Way wherein I ought to walk, teach me to perform thy Will.

The Third thing you have to do at that Time,3. To think sometimes of this Choice. is to think sometimes upon the Choice of a Calling you are one day to make, not to deliberate on it, but to find out to what you have an Inclination, what Thoughts or Motions God gives you in that Time. The observation of these things will serve much when you shall de­liberate on a Choice: And it happens very often, that by the Inclinations of Youth, God points us out the Condition to which he calls us.

Of the Means which must be employ'd, when one deliberates on the Choice of a State of Life.

HItherto we have spoken of the Means which must be practis'd a long time before we deliberate on the Choice of our Calling; now I come to those we must em­ploy when we are at the point of making that Election.

The Wiseman in Chap. 37.Three things to be done when we deliberate. of Ecclesia­sticus, teaching how we must comport our selves when we deliberate on an Affair of consequence, appoints three things to be done, that we may succeed happily.

1. He saith, That we must take Coun­sel, not of all sorts of Men, but of some wise and vertuous Person; for after he had numbred up many, who are not fit for Counsel, he adds,Non atten­das his in om­ni consilio sed cum viro san­cto assiduus esto. Quem­cunque cog­noveris observantem timorem Domini. Eccl. 37. Take not Counsel of all those, but advise with a pious Man, and whom you know to have the Fear of God; which I have already cited above, Part 2. Chap. 6.

2. He saith, That we must consult our selves; Take Counsel of your own Heart, Et cor boni consilii statue tecum. Non est enim aliud pluris illo. Ibid. v. 8. says he, or as the Greek hath it, Establish a Council in your Heart; That is, you must deliberate within your self, examining se­riously the thing you consult of, its Cir­cumstances, [Page 400]its Consequences, observing the Inclinations or Repugnances you feel in your self, what you can, and what you cannot, and other like things which must be consider'd in this Affair, following that excellent Advice of St. Ambrose, Unusquis­que suum in­genium nove­rit & ad id se applicet quod sibi aptum de­legerit. Ita quid sequatur prius conside­ret non solum noverit bona sua; sed etiam vitia cognoscat: aequa­lemque sui se judicem praebeat, ut bonis intendat, vitia declinet. S. Ambr. lib. 1. Offic. cap. 44. Let every one, says he, know his own Disposition, and let him apply himself to that he shall choose, as the most convenient for him: Let him consider first what he will follow, let him not only know his good Qualities, but also his bad, and let him judge of himself with equity.

The Pagans themselves were not igno­rant of this so necessary a Counsel, which one of their Poets hath exprest in these Verses.

E coelo descendit [...]
Juvenal. Satyr 11.
& memori tractandum pectore sive
Conjugium quaeras, vel sacri in parte Se­natus
Esse velis, seu tu magno discrimine causam
Protegere affectes: Te consule, dic tibi quis sis.
From Heaven came down [...]
Consult your Mind if Marriage you desire,
Or t' share i'th' sacred Senate you aspire,
Or Causes right in Courts of Justice Plead,
Resolve your self, and your own Orders read.

The Wiseman adds to these two Means a third, without which the other two are unprofitable; that is, to consult God by Prayer, and humbly demand of him, that he will conduct us in our Deliberation, and in the Resolution we shall take;Et in his om­nibus depre­care altissi­mum; ut di­rigat in veri­tate viam tu­am. And in all these things beseech God to direct your ways in truth; that is, that he would guide you so that you should not be deceiv'd in your Choice: Men may fail in their Counsels, you may be deceiv'd in Delibe­rating, if they and you be not conduct by God who is the Author of good Coun­sels, and can bring them to a happy issue.

These, Theotime, are the three Means you ought to employ for the choice of your Calling, and when you ought to em­brace with so much more Respect, as it is the Holy Ghost who prescribes them to you. Now to the end you may profitably make use of them, I shall tell you in order what you must do when you shall be upon the point of Employing them.

What is to be done when one is upon the point of choosing his State.

WHEN you shall be upon the point of choosing a State of Life, which you ought not to do, if possible, sooner than between Eighteen and Twen­ty Years of Age, see what you shall pra­ctise.

First,What is to be done. Being resolv'd with the Counsel of some discreet Person, to deliberate of the Choice of your State,Take time to deliberate. propose to your self a sufficient Time to apply your self entirely to this important Deliberation: For Example, a Time of five or six Months, or more, according to the Difficulty you shall find to resolve upon a Calling. Ha­ving setled this Time, you shall perform what follows.

In the beginning of this Deliberation,Direct your In­tention. make your Intention to choose a State wherein you may serve God well, and secure your Salvation in the practice of Vertue, and of a truly Christian Life: Let that be your principal End, and your chiefest Mo­tive, and let not temporal Inducements enter into this Deliberation, but after this first and principal Design.

Persuade your self,Account this Affair of great­est consequence. as it is most certain, that this here is the most important Affair which can ever befall you in your whole Life.

Begin by a good,Begin by a ge­neral Confes­sion. and if possible, by a general Confession: It will help, 1. To make you know whether you be in a State to deliberate on this Choice, and whether your Sins hinder you not, as we have said. 2. To make you more pleasing to God, and more worthy of his Assistance and Light. 3. To discover unto you your In­clination. 4. To inform your Ghostly Fa­ther the better to counsel and direct you in this Deliberation.

After Confession Communicate, and beg [Page 403]of God in your Communion, that he would be pleas'd to assist you in this Deliberation you begin, and humbly offer your Prayers to him for this Effect: This is the begin­ning. During the time of your Delibera­tion, observe what you must do. 1. Have a great care to live in Vertue, and in a great distance from Sin,Da mihi se dium tuarum assistricem sa­pientiam. Mitte illam de coelis sanctis tuis & à sede magnitudinis tuae, ut me­cum sit & me­cum laboret, ut sciam quid acceptum sit apud te. Sap. 9. to make you worthy of Divine Favors. 2. Offer particular Prayers daily to God,Vias tuas Domine de­monstra mihi & semitas tu­as edoce me: dirige me in veritate tua delicta juven­tutis meae, & ignorantias meas ne me­mineris. Psal. 24. humbly to beg of him the Grace to know the State to which he calls you; Notam fac mihi viam in qua ambulem. Invoke also daily the B. Virgin to obtain this Grace of God, demand the assistance of your good Angel. 3. Con­fess your self often during this time, that is, every Fortnight, and Communicate al­so at the same time, according to the Ad­vice of your Confessor. Be present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar as often as you can, to demand of God therein his Assi­stance. Give Alms according to your power, and also perform some Fasts for this Intention. Recommend this Affair to the Prayers of your Friends. Let all the Good you do be referr'd to that End, that is, to obtain of God the Grace to choose well your Calling. 4. Apply some Hour of the Day to think seriously on the State you must choose, and to deliberate of it within your self.

The first thing to be Examin'd in this Deliberation,Three things to be done in this Deliberation. is the choice of two general States, under which all others are compre­hended; that is, the State of Continence, [Page 404]and that of Marriage. The State of Con­tinence comprises principally the Ecclesia­stical and Religious State, the State of Marriage comprehends the different Call­ings of the World.

Examin first these two general States, and observe whether you be indifferent, or have an Inclination to one of them.

If you be indifferent, take time to Exa­min seriously both of them in the sight of God, and with a Design to choose that of the two which you shall find, after a seri­ous Deliberation and with good Counsel, to be the better, and most proper for you.

If you be inclin'd, and carry'd to one of these two States, have a care not to follow presently your Inclination, but Examin it diligently, and a long time.

And first, if it be to a Lay State, consi­der whether you have had this Inclination a long time; Whether it be a good Mo­tive that carries you to that State; Whe­ther it be not a greediness after Riches, a love of Pleasure or Ambition, as it often happens. Call to mind the Difficulties, and Obligations of that State; and to know them more easily, descend to the particular Callings of the World, which you may most likely embrace. For this effect read what shall be said thereof here­after in Chap. 11. and 12. Beseech God that he would make you know his Will, and not permit you to embrace that State, unless it be to serve him. Protest to him, that this is your Design, and that notwith­standing [Page 405]any Inclination you have for that Condition, you will quit your self of it, if he shall make it known to you that it is not his Will. Banish from your Mind all bad Motives of Pleasure, Covetousness, Ambition, and Vanity; and propose no other than that of serving God, and doing his Will. When you have propos'd all these things during a good space of time, if this Inclination continue with you, you may in the Name of God embrace that State, proposing chiefly to your self, to comport your self therein as a vertuous Man, to avoid the Dangers of it, to dis­charge your Obligations, and always to have the Fear of God for the Rule of your Actions, and of all your whole Life. But in choosing amongst the Callings of the World, have a care not to take those wherein you see many Dangers of offend­ing God, and ruining your self.

Now if you perceive your self to be mov'd to the State of Continence, whether Ecclesiastical or Religious, as you must have a very particular Vocation to these two States, so you must seriously examin it, and resolve nothing therein, till after you have demanded a long time of God the Grace to know it, after you have consider'd a good while the Difficulties and Advanta­ges of the State you would choose; and when you have taken good Counsel in it, we shall tell you hereafter what you must do in the choice of these two Callings.

In fine, Theotime, during all the time of [Page 406]your Deliberation, Confer often with your Ghostly Father, declare to him all that you observe in your self, the Inclinations and Repugnances you find to divers Con­ditions, the Difficulties you apprehend therein, the Motives that incline you rather to one State than another: Add thereunto also the Counsel of some other Persons, supposing they have the Qualities we are about to speak of.

Of the Qualities those ought to have of whom Counsel is to be taken for the Choice of a State of Life.

THERE is no Question but you must principally consult in this Choice, him who hath knowledge of your Consci­ence, there being none who can see more clearly in this Affair than he, since it is often an obscure, doubtful, and difficult Business to resolve on, even with that Knowledge. But he must be a select Man, endow'd with much Vertue, with a most singular Prudence, and one who observes exactly the following Rules.

1. Let him not undertake to conduct another in this Choice, until he hath of­fer'd his Prayers to God for that effect, and know whether he will make use of him in this Occasion.

2. Let him in this Direction regard [Page 407]nothing but God, and the Salvation of him whom he Conducts, and let him have no other Design but to seek the Will of God.

3. Let him strip himself of all Inclina­tion he may have to move to one State ra­ther than another. For Example, an Ec­clesiastic must lay aside the Inclination to move to an Ecclesiastical Life; A Religi­ous, that of persuading to a Religious State. He must be absolutely disengag'd in this Conduct, that he may not take his own In­clination for the Will of God, much less must he have any Interest, which is a Crime in this Concern.

4. Let him proceed seriously in this Direction, not giving Counsel in hast, and in a short time, but taking leisure to think on it, to Examin all the Reasons, and all the necessary Circumstances, to ask Coun­sel of others if it be convenient, without naming the Person concerning whom he Consults; and above all, to Pray much.

5. Let him have recourse to God, to know what he must counsel him according to his holy Will, and for the Good and Sal­vation of him whom he Advises; and let him put more trust in his Prayers than his own Judgment, expecting to know no­thing by himself, but by the sole Grace of God: For, as the Wiseman says,Quis enim hominum sci­re potest con­silium Dei, aut quis poterit cogitare quid velit Deus? sensum autem tuum quis sci­et, nisi tu de­deris sapien­tiam, Spiritum sanctum tuum de altissimis? Sap. 9. Who can know the Design of God? or who can know his Will? And who can know his own Thought, except God himself give him the knowledge of it?

There happen sometimes so great Dif­ficulties in this Choice, that he who gives Counsel, knows not on what to resolve. Vast Obstacles offer themselves in the Executi­on of some Design, and a Man cannot tell whether they be Temptations of the De­vil, which endeavor to divert from it, or Impediments which God sends, to shew that he only desires the Good-will, and not the Execution of that Design; and then there is no other Means to be taken but Time and Prayer.

To the Counsel of the Confessor may be added that of some other Persons, on Condition they have these three Qualities,Cum fatuis consilium ne habeas, non enim potue­runt diligere, nisi quae eis placent. Eccl. 8. Cum sapien­tibus & pru­dentibus tra­cta. Eccl. 9. Vertue, Wisdom, and Disinteressedness; That is, That they regard principally the Salvation of him whom they Counsel; That they consider seriously all things; And that they have no Interest to see him of one Calling rather than another.

Whether Parents are to be hearkned to in this Choice.

I Treat this Question here, because it frequently falls out, that the Choice of a State of Life is hinder'd or disturb'd by Parents, who give not to their Children the liberty of choosing, but determin them themselves according to their Inclination or Interest; in which Point they sin most [Page 409]grievously, and render themselves culpa­ble in the sight of God,An Advertise­ment for Pae­rents. of all the Disor­ders or Misfortunes which often happen, or may happen from their unjust Proceed­ing.

First then, Theotime, if your Parents leave you at liberty to choose your Call­ing, you must account your self happy, and give God many Thanks for it. Now if they permit not you to have the liberty of choosing, this is what you must do.

1. In respect of an Ecclesiastical, or Religious State. 2. In respect of a Lay State.

As for the Ecclesiastical or Religious State, neither their Counsel nor their Will ought to be a sufficient Reason to choose, or leave one of these Callings; but you must consider whether you be call'd thereto by God. These two States being more perfect, and having greater Obligations than o­thers, require a particular Vocation from God; which ought to be follow'd when it is known, and when it is not, you must not engage your self therein. For this Rea­son, if your Parents desire that you be an Ecclesiastic, or Religious, First Examin, and that a long time, whether God hath call'd you to one of these States; and if after you have consulted a good while, you find no Vocation to either, be careful not to enter upon either, notwithstanding any Persuasions they may use, or Commands they may lay upon you, even when they employ Constraint and Violence: Yet re­member [Page 410]to make this Resistance with all the Respect you ow them, shewing them modestly that you cannot comply with their Desires, and the Reasons you have for it. Cause these Declarations to be made to them by Persons who have power over their Minds. Beseech God that he will make them change their Minds, or let you know whether you must follow it. If on the contrary, they divert you from an Ecclesiastical, or Religious State, and you perceive your self strongly mov'd thereto, you must Examin your Inclination, to know whether it come from God; for if God call you, you must obey Him, and not Men. You will know whether it come from God, by doing that which we shall appoint you hereafter concerning the Choice of these two Callings. Chiefly, if your Inclination hath no other Mo­tive than to serve God,Marks of a Vocation from God. and procure your Salvation; if it be urgent, long, and persevering; if it still continue with you amidst the Obstacles and Resistan­ces which are offer'd, notwithstanding all the Persuasions may be us'd to the contrary; it is a great sign that it comes from God: Nevertheless, act nothing therein without taking Advice from wise Persons, who may counsel you what you have to do; to follow at the same time the Inspiration of God, and not offer an In­jury to the Respect you ow to your Pa­rents.

As to the choice of different Conditions [Page 411]in the World, supposing you are deter­min'd to a Lay State, you must conform your self to the Will of your Parents, and yield much to their Inclination and Judgment, except the Condition to which they design you, expose you to evident Occasions of offending God, or be notably prejudicial to your Good, or else that you have such a repugnance to it, that you cannot conquer it, or a manifest unfitness, or other great Reasons; of which yet you alone must not judge, but by the Counsel of wise and vertuous Persons.

Of the different States of Life, and first of the Ecclesiastical State.

THAT you may better deliberate on the Calling you ought to choose, it is seasonable that I should speak of the principal States, and propose the most important things you must consider in each of them.

I begin with the Ecclesiastical State, concerning which, if you deliberate, you ought to reflect attentively upon three things.

  • 1. What it is, that is, how great, and what its Obligations and Dangers are.
  • 2. The Vocation you must have to it.
  • 3. The preparation you must bring with you.

Of the greatness of the Obligations and Dan­gers of an Ecclesiastical State.

FIRST then, you must consider that you deliberate on a State which is the highest, and most elevated of all the States in the World. It is the Calling which approaches nearest to God, and which God hath Establish'd to be Mediator be­twixt him and Men, and by the Mediation whereof he communicates himself to them. He hath committed to its Trust all that is most perfect and dear to him; The Mi­nistry of his Word, the Dispensation of his Divine Mysteries, the Administration of his Sacraments, the Government of the Church, and in fine, the Salvation of Souls which he hath Redem'd by the Price of his Blood; A State whose Functions sur­pass all those of Angels, who look upon them with a profound Respect, esteeming them infinitely above their Power, and the Dignity of their Celestial Nature. O God, Theotime, what a Grandeur and Dig­nity is this!

This so exalted a State ought not to swell Ecclesiastics with Glory,The Obligations of an Ecclesia­stical State. but fill them with much Fear and Trembling; for as it is high, it brings with it vast Obligations.

1. It obliges them to a great Sanctity; because they approach to God in their Ministry, they are oblig'd to be Holy. [Page 413] Sanctificabor in eis qui ap­propinquant ad me. Lev. 10. Sancti estote quia ego san­ctus sum. Levit. 1. I will be sanctifi'd, says he, in those who ap­proach to me. Be holy, because I am holy. For this Reasonb S. Thomas says that the Sanctity requir'd for this State, ought to be greater than that of a Religious State.

And they are not only oblig'd to a parti­cular and hidden Sanctity, such as that of o­ther Christians, but to an exemplar Sancti­ty, which serves as a Light to others. They are design'd for that End, the Son of God said particularly to them,Vos estis lux mundi, sic lu­ceat lux vestra coram homi­nibus, ut vide­ant opera ve­stra bona & glorificent pa­trem vestrum qui in coelis est. Mat. 5. You are the Light of the World, let your Light shine so a­mongst Men, that they may see your good Works, and glorifie your Celestial Father. And the Council of Trent says Divinely,Nihil est quod alios magis ad pie­tatem & Dei cultum assidue instruat, quam eorum vita & exemplum qui se divino ministerio de­dicarunt. Quapropter sic decet om­nino Clericos in sortem Do­mini vocatos, vitam moresque suos omnes componere; ut habitu, gestu, incessu, sermone, aliisque omnibus, nihil nisi grave, moderatum, & religio­nis plenum prae se ferant; levia etiam delicta, quae in ipsis maxima essent, effugiant; ut eorum actiones cunctis afferant venerationem. Conc. T [...]id. Sess. 21. c. 1. That there is nothing more instructs others in Piety, and the Service of God, than the Life and Example of those who are Consecrated to the Divine Mi­nistry. And for this reason it behoveth the Clergy, who are call'd to the Lot of our Lord, so to regulate their Life and Manners, that in their Habit, Gesture, Walking, Discourses, and other things, there appear nothing but what may relish of Gravity, Modesty, and Religion; And avoid light Faults, which would be heinous in their Persons, that their Actions may cause Veneration in all Men.

The other Obligation of Ecclesiastics, is to cooperate to the Salvation of Souls; they are Establish'd for that End, and without a Crime they cannot dispence with it; It is an Abuse to believe, that only Curats are charg'd with that Obli­gation. All Incumbents, and all Ecclesia­stics, are oblig'd to this Labor. St. Paul says, ThatNos autem servos vestros per Jesum. 2 Cor. 4. they are Servants of the Faith­ful. The Oblations are given to them by the Faithful for that intent. And St. Gre­gory says,Pensemus cujus damna­tionis sit [...]ine labore hic re­cipere merce­dem laboris. Ecce ex obla tione fidelium vivimus, sed nunquid pro animabus fi­delium labo­ramus. S. Greg. Hom. 1. in Evangel. Cant. Laetemur ad ascensum, sed timeamus ad lapsum, &c. Neque enim solum pro nostris delictis reddemus rationem, sed pro omnium quo­rum abutimur bonis, & nequaquam sumus de eorum salute solli­citi. S. Hieron. in cap. 44. Ezech. they ought to consider how cri­minal and punishable a thing it is, to receive the Fruit of Labor without Labor. S. Jerom says, That Priests shall not only render an Account of their own Sins, but of the Sins of all those whose Goods they abuse, living on their Goods, and not taking aeny care of their Salvation.

S. Bernard adds a dreadful thing,Venient, ve­nient ante tribunal Chri­sti, audietur populorum querela gra­vis, accusatio dura quorum vixere stipen­diis, nec di­luere peccata, quibus facti sunt duces cae­ci, fraudulenti mediatores. S. Ber. in Decl. That at the Universal Judgment we shall hear the Complaints and Lamentations of Peo­ple, who shall rigorously accuse the Eccle­siastics before the Tribunal of God, as Deceivers, for having liv'd on their Goods, without applying themselves to the Expi­ation of their Sins; for having been blind Guides, and unfaithful Mediators of their Salvation; for having cast them into a Precipice, instead of conducting them to Eternal Life.

O Theotime, read attentively, and weigh well the Sentiments of these great Saints, touching this Obligation of Ecclesiastics, to engrave them deeply in your Heart, and advantage your self by them, when you shall be enter'd into an Ecclesiastical State.

From these two so strict obligations spring two extream Dangers of this State.The Dangers of an Ecclesiasti­cal State. The one is, of not being endow'd with the Sanctity it requires, but corrupted by the Spirit and Maxims of the World, and much more by the Contagion of Ecclesia­stics, the greatest part whereof lead a Life far remov'd from the Perfection of their State. The other Danger is,Multam mali­tiam docuit otiositas. of falling into that Idleness common to Ecclesiastics; which making them neglect the Labor to which their Calling obliges them, ren­ders them most culpable in the sight of God, and moreover casts them into many Disorders and Vices, whereof it is ordi­narily the Mother.

To these two Dangers must be added two others, which arise from Benefices.Two other Dangers, Plu­rality of Bene­fices, and bad use of Ecclesia­stical Goods. The First is, to possess many Benefices, when one is sufficient for an honest and moderate Maintenance; for that is against the Law of God, and of his Church, and against all Reason. It is the constant Opinion of Di­vines, That that cannot be done without a mortal Sin, except it be by a particular Dispensation, built upon good and real Causes, which ought to spring from the Necessity of the Church, or from her greater Advantage. I know very well, [Page 416]that the Covetousness of Incumbents finds sufficient Means to Disguise themselves on this Occasion, under the Pretences of Ne­cessity, Congruity, and even of Piety; but when these Pretences shall be Examin'd at the Divine Judgment, they will appear what they are, that is, a pure disguising of real Avarice, which will be found most criminal in the sight of God, and cause the Damnation of many, who will be sorry too late for having follow'd the disorderly Motions of their insatiable Covetousness.

The other Danger consists in the Ma­nagement of their Revenues, which cannot without a mortal Sin be employ'd in wick­ed, or even in superfluous Expences, as in Delicacies, in good Chear, in Vanities, in Excesses of Feasts, of Garments, of Mova­bles, and other like things; Not to enrich their Relations, or heap up Treasures, which often draw the visible Curse of God upon those who hoard them up. Incum­bents are forbidden all these things. And it is an absolutely certain Truth, that they cannot receive from their Benefices more than their sufficient and modest Mainte­nance, and the rest ought to be employ'd in Alms and pious Works. Many Divines hold they are bound to Restitution, when they dispose of it otherwise; and the ge­nerality condemns them at least of a mor­tal Sin.

Of the Vocation to an Ecclesiastical State.

The Ecclesiastical State being so high and elevated,There must be a Vocation to an Ecclesiasti­cal State. must certainly require a Vocation from God. This is the great Maxim of the Apostle,Nec quis­quam sumat sibi honorem, sed qui voca­tur à Deo tan­quam Aaron. Heb. 5. Let no Man take this Honor to himself, but he who is call'd by God as Aaron. A Maxim which he confirms by the adorable Example of Jesus Christ, who being by himself, and by his Dignity of the Son of God, a Priest, would not take upon him the Quality of Sovereign High-Priest, but receiv'd it from Him, who from all Eternity said to him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee; and in the Moment of his Incarnation said to him, Thou art a Priest for ever accord­ing to the Order of Melchisedec.

There must then be a Vocation to an Ecclesiastical State, and this sole Example of Jesus Christ ought to confound all those who have the boldness to intrude them­selves by their own Motion, without a Divine Call, drawing upon themselves by this Impudence, the Wrath of Almighty God, the refusal of his Favors, and the certain loss of their Eternal Salvation.

This being so, Theotime, you may very well judge with what care you ought to Examin your Vocation, if you delibe­rate about the Choice of an Ecclesiastical State. To succeed happily therein, see [Page 418]what you are to do: You must know whe­ther the Motion and Inclination you feel to an Ecclesiastical State, come from God; for if it come from him, it is a Vocation, but if it come not from him, it is an Illusion and Deceit of the Devil, who moves you to an Eccclesiastical State to ruin you therein.

To know whether this Motion come from God, you must Examin two things. 1. What Intention inclines you to this State. 2. Whether you have the requi­site Dispositions.

As to the Intention, if it be bad, 'tis certain your Motion comes not from God; for he cannot be the Author of any Ill. Now it is bad, if you have for the Mark at which you aim, any of these Ends; that is, To live more at your Ease in an Ec­clesiastical State; To find therein Repose, Idleness, or Delights; To heap up Riches; To be honor'd and esteem'd by Men, and other like things: All these Motives are bad, and if you have any such, your Voca­tion is not from God, but rather from the Devil. This Truth is learn'd from S. Ber­nard; Universos in ordinibus Ec­clesiasticis, ho­norem quae­rentes propri­um aut divi­tias, aut saecu­li voluptates, postremo quae sua sunt, non quae Jesu Christi, ma­niseste pror­sus & indubi­tanter non ea quae ex Deo est charitas, sed aliena à Deo, & om­nium radix malorum cupiditas introducit. S. Bern. in Declamat. All those, says he, who in Ecclesia­stical Orders seek either Honor or Riches, or the Pleasures of this Life; and in a word, who seek their Interest, and not that of Jesus Christ, without doubt are not mov'd to this State by Charity, which is from God, but by Covetousness, which is the Enemy of God, and the Fountain of all Mischiefs.

Your Intention then must be good,Two Ends which make an Ecclesiastical State good. and to be so, it must have for its End these two things, The Sanctification of your own Soul, and the Salvation of your Neighbors, which are the two general Obligations of that Calling, as it hath been said. That is, you should propose to your self to live in that State a holy and exemplar Life, and contribute to the Salvation of Souls by your Prayers, Labor, and all possible Means, according to the same S. Bernard, who says, That he who would enter into the Orders of the Church, and be receiv'd into the Ministry of the Sanctuary, ought to have thisQuis ea in­tentione gra­dus Ecclesia­sticos & mini­sterium san­ctuarii quae­rit ut sine cu­ris saeculi, in sanctimonia cordis & cor­poris illuminandus accedat ad Dominum & suam pariter & proxi­morum salutem operetur orationis studio deditus, & verbo prae­dicationis? Idem ibid. Intention, To approach to God with an absolute Disengagement from the things of this World, in a perfect Pu­rity of Mind and Body, to be illuminated by him, and procure therein his own Sal­vation, and that of his Neighbor, by ap­plying himself to Prayer, and to the Dis­pensation of the Word of God.

It is not sufficient for the Ecclesiastical State, to have a good Intention, you must besides be fit for it. There are two sorts of Defects which make a Man improper for that Calling, the Defects of the Mind, and the Corruption of Life and Man­ners. We shall not speak of those of the Body, whereof some render a Man Irregu­lar, that is, incapable, according to the [Page 420]Canons of the Church, of being admitted to Orders. The Defects of the Mind are Dullness or Stupidity, Rudeness, Light­ness of Mind, Ignorance, and other like, which visibly render a Man incapable of discharging Ecclesiastical Duties. Such Defects, when they cannot be conceal'd by Age, and Labor, are contrary to an Ecclesiastical Calling, and apparently dis­cover that a Man is not call'd to it.

The same is to be said of the Corrupti­on of Manners. Every one who hath liv'd in Sin, or is still subject to any considera­ble Vice, as Impurity, Drunkenness, Swear­ing, Revenge, Covetousness, Ambition, and other like Faults, ought not to believe himself fit, or call'd by God to an Ecclesia­stical Life, except he hath corrected his for­mer Manners by a long Penance, and hath entirely mortify'd his Passions, and con­quer'd his bad Inclinations by contrary Vertues. This Verity belongs to the Pre­paration of which we are going to speak.

Of the Preparation necessary for an Ec­clesiastical State.

Preparation is the third thing you have to Examin in deliberating on an Eccle­siastical State,There must be a Preparation to an Ecclesiasti­cal State, by a vertuous and holy Life. and so much more neces­sarily, as it frequently happens, that they who aspire to this State, account not them­selves oblig'd to be prepar'd for it a long time before by a vertuous and holy Life. [Page 421]This is an Error so much the more to be deplor'd, as it is most common, and the reason why Ecclesiastics dishonor their State by their Life, because engaging themselves therein without this Prepara­tion, it is no wonder, if they lead as they did before, a Secular, and oftentimes a most Vicious Life.

To disabuse you, Theotime, of this Er­ror,Proofs of this Truth. it is sufficient to represent unto you the Sanctity of that State: For if it be so holy and elevated, it is an infallible Con­sequence,1. By the San­ctity of the State. that you must prepare your self for it by a holy Life; and to desire to en­ter into Orders with a Soul still subject unto Sin, and full of Vicious Habits, is to contemn it, and to offer a most heinous Injury to it: It is to put your self in a most evident danger of dishonoring it by a Life unworthy of it, and contrary to the San­ctity it requires, and to find therein a cer­tain Damnation.

But to convince you absolutely of the Necessity of this Preparation,2. By convin­cing Authori­ties. I shall give you here the Sentiment of the Saints, and of the Church her self, upon this Subject.

S. Gregory the Great says,Ordinate ad ordines ascen­dendum est, nam casum appetit qui ad summa loci fastigia, post­positis gradi­bus per abru­pta quaerit a­scensum. Apta namque aedi­ficationibus e sylvis ligna succiduntur nec tamen ad­huc viridibus aedificii pon­dus imponi­tur, nisi eorum viriditatem multorum dierum mora siccaverit, & apta ad necessarium usum effecerit; Quae observantia si forte negligatur, citius superposita mole franguntur, & gignit ruinam ad auxilium res provisa. S. Greg. l. 7. Epist. 112. That we must ascend unto Orders by Order; for he seeks a Ruin and Precipice, who desiring to mount up to a high Place, leaves the ordinary Degrees to ascend by rough and craggy Ways. And he adds an excellent Comparison: For as Tim­ber is not proper to be employ'd in Building when it is yet green, and newly come out of the Forest, except it be dry'd and season'd a [Page 422]long time; otherwise it rather serves to ruin the Building than support it. Thus they ought not to be advanc'd to Sacred Orders, who have lately been engag'd in Sin, ex­cept all their wicked Habits have been cor­rected by a long and serious Penance.

St. Jerom speaking of an Ecclesiastical State,Vae homini illi qui non ha­bens vestem nuptialem in­greditur ad coenam, nil superest nisi ut audiat. A­mice quomo­do huc intrasti, &c. Probet se unusquisque & sic accedat. Non facit, Ecclesiastica dignitas Christianum. S. Hier. Epist. 1. says, Wo be to him who enters therein without the Nuptial Robe of Sanctity. He further adds, Let every one Examin and Prove himself, and not approach before that Trial. Ecclesiastical Dignity doth not make a Christian nor a vertuous Man, such an one as an Ecclesiastic ought to be.

S. Bernard in many places of his Works,Vae filiis irae qui nec dum reconciliati reconciliatio­nis alienae ne­gotia, quasi homines qui justitiam fece­rint, appre­hendunt. S. Bern. de Conversi ad Clericos cap. 10. do's nothing but make Complaints and In­vectives against those who enter thus into Orders, without bringing with them the Preparation of a holy Life experienc'd in Vertue. He says it is an insupportable Affront of those who do it, and that it is the Source of all the Disorders of Ecclesi­astics.

St. Thomas establisheth this Difference between Sacred Orders and a Religious [Page 423]State,Religionem ingredi non solum expedit his qui sunt exercitati in praeceptis, ut ad majorem perfectionem perveniant, sed etiam his qui non sunt exercitati, ut facilius peccata vitent, & perfectionem assequantur. Ad dicendum quod ordines sacri praeexigunt sanctitatem, sed Status Religionis est exercitium quoddam ad sanctitatem asse­quendam. Unde pondus ordinum imponendum est parietibus jam per sanctitatem desiccatis, sed pondus religionis desiccat parietes. id est, homines ab humore vitiorum, S. Thom. 2.2. Quaest. 180. Art. 1. Ʋtrum qui non sunt exercitati in praeceptis debeant ingredi reli­gionem. That to enter into Religion it is not necessary to be Exercis'd beforehand in Vertue; but to enter into Orders it is requir'd: And he brings this Reason, Because, says he, Sacred Orders require a precedent Sanctity, which the State of Religion do's not, which is an Exercise instituted to attain unto Sanctity.

All these Authorities are clear, and ad­mit of no Reply. Give ear to that of the whole Church speaking in the Council of Trent.

The Sacred Council, after it had deter­min'd the Age wherein one might receive Holy Orders, adds, ThatSciant ta­men Epifcopi non singulos in ea aetate constitutos debere ad hos ordines assu­mi, sed dignos duntaxat & quorum pro­bata vita se­nectus sit. Concil. Trid. Sess. 25. c. 12. all those are not capable of Orders who have attain'd to that Age, but only those who are worthy of it, and whose experienc'd Life is a certain old Age; That is, they should recompence their Age by the Wisdom of their Life, and Sanctity of their Manners, according to that Maxim of the Wiseman, which says, ThatCani sunt sensus hominum & aetas senectutis vita immaculata. Sap. 4. the gray Hairs of a Man con­sists in Wisdom, and in a holy and immacu­late Life.

After all these Authorities there is no reason to doubt of the necessity of this Preparation to an Ecclesiastical State, but rather to be both astonish'd and sorry to see it so ill observ'd.

The Conclusion of the Precedent Chapter.

These are the principal things which he, who aspires to an Ecclesiastical State, ought attentively to consider.

If then you deliberate of this Calling,What is to be done about deli­berating on an Ecclesiastical Life. see what you have to do. Practise all that we have said in the Sixth Chapter, take a reasonable time to perform this Delibe­ration, and during that time, 1. Pray much, Confess, and Communicate often. 2. Read, and Meditate attentively what we have said concerning the Ecclesiastical State: Weigh well the Greatness and Ho­liness of that Calling, to conceive a high Esteem of it; its Obligations, to see whe­ther you can acquit your self of them; and its Dangers, to avoid them: Examin diligently, and without flattering your self, what Motive you bring to this State, what Fitness you have for it, and whether you have nothing in you which may be contrary to it. 3. Confer often with some wise and vertuous Ecclesiastic, who shall perfectly know how to inform you of all you ought to consider in that Calling, and discover to you whether you have requi­site Dispositions for it.

If after a long Deliberation you believe you ought to embrace that State,What is to be done after the Resolution. resolve to dispose your self for it as you ought, that is, by a holy and vertuous Life, and by a serious Study of the Knowledge of those things which shall be necessary for you. And as soon as you are fixt upon your Re­solution, apply your self seriously to these two things.

First,1. He must prepare himself by a holy Life. Addict your self entirely to Piety, fly Sin, labor to mortifie your Pas­sions, to correct your irregular Inclinati­ons, to attain to Christian Vertues, Cha­stity, Humility, Modesty, Simplicity, and the Contempt of the World: Fly the Spirit of the World and worldly Conver­sation, frequent the Sacraments, read pi­ous Books, and above all the New Testa­ment, and Books which treat of the Obli­gations of an Ecclesiastical State, which the holy Fathers have left us, as the Offices of S. Ambrose, the Epistle of S. Jerom to Ne­potian of the Life of Clergymen, the Pasto­ral of S. Gregory, the Declamations of S. Bernard, alias De contemptu mundi ad Clericos, his Books De Conversione ad Cle­ricos, his Books De Consideratione, and o­ther Works of this Subject, as well anci­ent as modern Authors.A remarkable Advice. Have frequently before your Eyes that remarkable Advice which S. Jerom gave to Rusticus a Monk, who aspir'd to an Ecclesiastical State;Ita age & vive in Mona­sterio ut Cle­ricus esse me­rearis, ut ado­lescentiam tu­am nulla sorde commacules, ut ad altare Christi quasi de thalamo virgo proce­das. S. Hier. Ep. ad Rustic. Live so holily in your Monastery, says he to him, that you may deserve to be of the Cler­gy, and not defiling your Youth by Sin, you may [Page 426]approach to the Altar of Jesus Christ in a perfect Purity. Meditate well upon this Advice, Theotime, consider it often, and conceive it spoken to your self, and cer­tainly with much more Reason; for, if a young Religious, living in the observance of a Monastical Rule, must have a care of himself, to make himself worthy of an Ec­clesiastical State by a holy Life, how much more care and pains ought you to take, who live in the World, where you have not the Advantages of a Regular Life?

Secondly,2. By the Study of Sciences ne­cessary for an Ecclesiastic. When you prepare your self for an Ecclesiastical State by a vertuous Life, remember to joyn with the Exerci­ses of Piety, diligent Labor, and continual Study, to make your self capable to serve God in that Calling. This Labor is no less necessary for an Ecclesiastical State than that of Sanctity. You are oblig'd to it in Conscience, and if you apply not your self carefully to it, you render your self un­worthy of that Calling:Quia tu re­pulisti scienti­am, repellam te ne sacerdo­tio fungaris mihi. Oseae. 4. For God will reject from his Priesthood, him who hath re­jected Science. And moreover, you make your self guilty in the sight of God, of all the Mischiefs which happen thro' your Ignorance.

The Ignorance of Priests is the greatest Evil that can be found in the Church,The great Evils which spring from the Igno­rance of Priests. it being the chiefest Cause of the Corruption of the People, and Loss of Souls. It is im­possible but that an ignorant Ecclesiastic should be Slothful and Idle, not being able to apply himself to his Studies, and that [Page 427]Idleness should cast him into Vice, as we daily see. Now altho' he should not be vicious, Idleness alone is criminal in a Priest. Add the Mischiefs which the Igno­rance of Ecclesiastics causes in respect of the People: For it either hinders them from laboring for the Salvation of Souls (from whence the People suffer much, losing the Assistance they ought to receive from them for their Eternal Salvation,) or else ren­ders them incapable of sufficiently acquit­ting themselves of that labor, and is the Cause that many Souls are Damn'd by their Incapacity, which bars them from Instructing them in those things they ought to know; and in a word, from directing them in the Way of Salvation, which the greatest part know not. It is not to be conceiv'd how many Souls are lost by the Ignorance of Priests.Quid enim periculi sit ubi non invenit Pastor pascua, dux ignorat itineris viam, servus nescit Domini vo­luntatem, Ec­clesia quotidie multipliciter & miserabiliter experitur. S. Bern. in Declamat. The Church (saith St. Bernard) hath daily a great and lamen­table Experience of the Danger Souls are ex­pos'd unto, when the Pastor wants where­with to feed his Sheep, when the Guide knows not the Way by which he should conduct them to Salvation, nor the Servant the Will of his Master, which he ought to declare to others.

O my dear Theotime, reflect well upon these things, and be afraid, lest by your Ignorance you make your self the Cause of the ruin of Souls redeem'd by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Addict your self seriously to the Study necessary for an Ecclesiastic, [Page 428]and assign for the Mark at which you aim, the making your self the most capable you can of serving God in the State to which he hath call'd you.

In fine,An important Advice. Whether in Deliberating on this Condition, or Preparing your self for it, set frequently before your Eyes those ex­cellent Words of S. Augustin, writing to a Friend of his, who demanded of him Counsel concerning an Ecclesiastical State.Ante omnia peto ut cogi­tet religiosa prudentia tua nihil esse in hac vita & maxime hoc tempore, fa­cilius & levius & hominibus acceptabilius Episcopi, Presbyteri, & Diaconi Offi­cio, si persun­ctorie & adu­latorie res a­gatur, sed ni­hil apud De­um miserabi­lius & tristius, & damnabilius. Item nihil esse in hac vita & maxime hoc tempore difficilius, laboriosius & periculosius Episcopi, Presbyteri, aut Di­aconi Officio, sed apud Deum nihil beatius, si eo modo militetur quo noster Imperator jubet. S. Aug. Epist. 184. I entreat you, says he, before all things, that by your Vertuous Wisdom you will consi­der well that there is nothing in this Life, and principally at this Time, more easie, more light, and more acceptable to Men, than the Charge of a Bishop, of a Priest, or of a Deacon, if negligently or flatteringly it be discharged; yet there is nothing more miserable, more dread­ful, and more damnable in the sight of God. Be­sides, there is nothing in this Life, and at this Time, more difficult, more painful, and more dangerous, than the Office of a Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, if they acquit themselves of it as they ought, and according to the Will of our Master; as also there is nothing more happy in the sight of God.

Of a Religious State.

AFTER the Ecclesiastical State I come to the Religious, the Choice whereof is of no less Consequence than that of the former, nor subject to less Faults.

It is an excellent thing that a Religious, who having once forsaken all things, should have no other care than to please God by the practice of Penance and Humility, li­ving in the exact observance of his Rule, and keeping himself retir'd from the Com­merce of the World, that he may addict himself entirely to the Study of real and solid Perfection.

But on the contrary, it is a sad and de­plorable thing, that a Religious, who is only religious in Habit, and making a par­ticular Profession of Perfection, is farther from it than the most imperfect Layman; loving the World, and worldly things, subject even to the most gross Vices; or having overcome corporal Vices, as Im­purity, Gluttony, and the like, permits himself to be carry'd away by spiritual Sins, as Anger, Ambition, Envy, Discord, Enmity, and other like, which are by so much more dangerous, as they are less sen­sible. I omit to speak of those, who be­ing enter'd too easily into Religion, and without a Vocation from God, repent [Page 430]themselves afterwards, for being too lightly engag'd in a Business of such Im­tance. A Repentance which frequently casts them into great Disorders, and some­times carries them even to Apostacy.

To make a good Choice of this State,Two things to be consider'd in a Religious Life. two things are necessary, 1. To know it well; that is to say, to understand what it is, its Obligations, its Advantages, and its Dangers. 2. To be Instructed well in in the Means he must make use of to deli­berate on it, and to know whether he be call'd to it. This is what we shall Treat of in the three following Articles.

What a Religious State is; What its Obliga­tions, its Advantages, and Dangers are.

A Religious Life (according to S. Tho­mas) is a Means instituted to acquire Sanctity. Status religi­onis est exer­citium quod­dam ad san­ctitatem asse­quendam. S. Thom. 2.2. Quaest. 189. Art. 1. Not an exterior Sanctity, which appears in the Habit, and exterior Actions of Pie­ty, but in an interior Holiness, which consists in the Sanctification of the Soul; which is effected by the mortification of the Passions, by the abridgment of disorder­ly Passions, by the stripping her self from all Inclination to Creatures and Self-love, by a strict Union with God thro' Charity. For this End do they leave the World, that with less hindrance, and more free­dom they may apply themselves to these Exercises. For this do they renounce all worldly Goods and Contentments, not [Page 431]only in Affection, as all Christians are ob­lig'd to renounce them; but also in Effect, that they may more freely and perfectly give themselves to God. And Lastly, To acquire this interior Sanctity, they pra­ctise Austerities, Obediences, and all the Rules of Religion, which are made only for that End.

The Obligations of this kind of Life are great;Its Obligati­ons. for it obliges to observe an exact Chastity, a perfect Poverty, re­mov'd not only from the Possession of any Goods, but from all Affection to earthly things, with an entire renunciation of their proper Will to follow that of their Superiors, and to sanctifie themselves in­teriorly by the practice of Christian Ver­tues, of which we have already spoken.

As the Obligations of this State are strict, there are also singular Advantages,Its Advanta­ges. whichQuae est ista tam preciosa margarita, nonne haec Religio san­cta, pura & immaculata, in qua homo vivit purius, cadit rarius, surgit veloci­us, incedit cautius, irro­ratur frequen­tius, quiescit securius, mo­ritur fiducius, purgatur citius, praemiatur copiosius? S. Bern. Hom. de verbis Domini, simile est regnum coelorum homini negotiatori. S. Bernard handles in one of his Sermons, where he says, That in Religion a Man lives more purely, is rais'd more rea­dily, walks more cautiously, is more frequently bedew'd with Divine Grace, reposes with more security, dies with less fear, is sooner purg'd in the other Life, and more abundantly re­compenc'd in Heaven. But this is to be un­derstood, as he himself says, of a holy, pure, and immaculate Religion, that is, a Religion observ'd holily, wherein they la­bor solidly for interior Sanctity, as has been said.

This State hath no small Dangers as well as great Advantages;Its Dangers. the sameRecta qui­dem semita vestra & secu­rior conjugatorum vita, non tamen omnino secura. Timendum enim periculum triplex, id est, ne forte aequare se alteri, aut re­spicere retro, aut certe in medio ponte stare, seu residere quis velit. S. Bern. de tribus ordinibus. S. Bernard reduces them to three.

The First Danger is of falling into Pride, and a good Opinion of ones self, which creeps so easily and insensibly into pious Actions, whose merit it greatly diminish­eth, and many times absolutely ruins.

The Second is the Danger of looking back to return unto the World, either in Effect, or by Affection and Desire.

The Third is of growing loose in the Exercise of a Religious life. It is a Way, as the same Saint says, wherein one must necessarily either advance, or retire; and if a Man grows slack, he falls into Disor­der, which makes him in the Habit of Reli­gion and Piety lead a most secular Life, and full of Vices, and which is by so much more dangerous, as being really wicked, it bears the appearance of Vertue.

The first of these Dangers ordinarily springs from this, that Men judge of San­ctity by the Exterior, and one esteems him­self such as he seems in appearance, not re­garding that Sanctity consists in the Ver­tues of the Soul, and chiefly in the pra­ctice of a solid, and perfect Humility. The Second and Third arise most fre­quently from conversing with the World, [Page 433]which is infinitely dangerous for Religi­ous Persons, asNecesse est ut quisque re­ligiosus si fal­vari desiderat, saeculum contemnat, & sese intra monasterii claustra concludat. S. Bern. lib. debene vivend. Serm. 66. S. Bernard says, and all three together proceed from the want of a true Vocation to Religion.

These, Theotime, are the principal things you ought to consider, if you deliberate on a Religious Calling: Now to the end you may proceed with more assurance in this Deliberation, I shall tell you the Order, you must observe therein, and what you must do to know whether you be call'd to it.

What is to be done to know whether one be call'd to Religion.

First, If you perceive in your self a strong Motion to that State, have a care not to reject it, because perhaps it is a Vo­cation from God; nor also to embrace it suddenly, being it may be only a human Motion. You must examin whether it be God who speaks interiorly to you; for if it be, you must hear and follow him whi­ther he calls you; if it be not, you must remain as you are.

But how should I know that? you'll say: See the Means. Take a good space of time to apply your self to this important Affair, and during that time practise ex­actly four things.

1. Refrain from any Conversation with those who would move or excite you to be Religious. The Reason is very mani­fest; for as soon as you shall be solicited to it, you will not know how to discern whe­ther the Inclination you have to it comes from the Inspiration of God, or the Per­suasion of Men.

2. Beg daily of God with great ear­nestness, that he would be pleas'd to make his Will known to you, and confirm you in this Motion if it come from him, or take it away if it come not from him. Say to him as S. Peter did,Domine, si tu es, jube me venire ad te. Mat. 14. Lord, if it be thou who speakest, command me to come to thee. De­clare that you are ready to hearken to him as young Samuel, Loquere Domine, quia audit servus tuus. 1 Reg. 3. Speak, Lord, for thy Ser­vant hears thee; and say with S. Paul, Domine, quid me vis facere? Act 9. Lord, what wilt thou have me do?

3. Examin diligently, 1. The Obliga­tions, Advantages, and Dangers of a Re­ligious Life, of which we have spoken a­bove. 2. The Intention you bring to this State.The Intention that must be had to enter in­to Religion. The Intention which must be had in this Design, is to withdraw your self from the World to do Penance, and to be sanctifi'd interiorly by the practice of Christian Vertues. See whether this be your Motive; think often on it seriously without flattering your self; for if ano­ther Motive incline you to that Calling, your Design is not from God. Examin also whether you be fit for it, and whether you have nothing that is incompatible with that Condition, be it in Body or Mind. [Page 435]Corporal Infirmities, and bad Qualities of the Mind; but chiefly all Lightness and Inconstancy render a Man unapt for that Calling.

4. Above all things resolve not on your own Head, and without taking good Counsel. It is a very common Fault a­mongst young People, many whereof put themselves into Religion without any o­ther Counsel than that of their own Mind, which frequently they admit there too easily: From whence it often falls out, that they are oblig'd to go out, or having a shame to change, they badly, and with­out Vocation engage themselves therein. Act not so, Theotime, but declare your De­sign to some prudent Person, and particu­larly to your Ghostly Father; and if you have not an ordinary one, choose avertu­ous, discreet, and understanding one; dis­cover all your interior Thoughts to him, and hearken humbly to his Advice.

When you have done thus for a good space of time, that is, at least for six Months, or a Year; If the Intention you have to be Religious, continue still, and your Intention also be such as it ought to be, that is, pure and holy, and that you have convenient Dispositions of Mind and Body for that State, you have reason to believe that your Inspiration comes from God, and that he calls you to Religion; But if this Inclination continues not, it is a sign that it was only a human Motion.

Some may say that you ought readily [Page 436]to put in Execution the Inspirations from God, and that to delay the Performance a long time, is to put ones self in danger of losing them, according to that Maxim of St. Ambrose, Nescit tarda molimina Spi­ritus sancti gratia. which says, That the Grace of the Holy Ghost approves not of slow En­deavors.

I answer, That it is true when you suf­ficiently know that the Inspiration comes from God; but before you can have that knowledge, you not only do well to defer it, but you ought to delay, principally in Affairs of consequence. Now to come to this knowledge you must have time: And in a word, to do what we have said, is not to be wanting to our Fidelity, and Trust in the Grace of God, but to practise faith­fully the Maxim of the Holy Ghost him­self, who commands us Not to believe every Spirit, but to try whether they come from God. This is not to put ones self in danger of losing ones Vocation, but to comply with ones Duty, to know the truth of it by suf­ficient Marks, the best whereof is, Perse­verance to embrace it more zealously, and to execute it with more fidelity. In fine, that you may be more convinc'd of this Maxim against the Oppositions you may find therein, I shall add to it another par­ticular Article.

That a Man must take time to know whether he be call'd to Religion.

If God gave us always certain and un­doubted Marks of his Inspiration for great Enterprises, questionless we should not take time to deliberate on them, nor to put them in Execution; but because he is not pleas'd ordinarily to deal with us in this manner, and admonisheth us by the Apostle,Nolite omni Spiritui cre­dere; sed pro­bate Spiritus si ex Deo sint. 1 Jo. 4. Not to give credit to every Spirit, but to try whether they come from him, ad­ding in another place, ThatIpse Sata­nas transfigu­rat se in An­gelum lucis. 2 Cor. 11. the Spirit of Darkness frequently transforms himself into an Angel of Light: There is no question but that it is so far from being a bad Action to defer in this Occasion, that it is a thing absolutely necessary and conformable to the Order establish'd by God, who would have us make use of Means proper to know his Will, and of the Signs he hath given us, to discern the Inspirations which come from his Grace, from those which come not.

These Means are the three we have al­ready given you above, a good Life, Prayer, and Counsel. A good Life takes away the greatest Obstacle to the Grace of God, which is Sin, and makes us most worthy of his Lights. Prayer, when it is humble, fervent, and perseverant, makes us obtain them. And good Counsel serves to direct [Page 438]us to know the Will of God, and not take our own Inclination for a Divine Inspira­tion.

When our Lord had touch'd Paul, and brought him to demand what he would have him do, he sends him to Ananias to learn his Will from him. This holy Man inspir'd by God, comes to seek this new Convert, who was at Prayer, and declar'd to him on the part of God what he would have him do. This is a Model of what you ought to do in this so important an Oc­casion.

Permit yourself to be mov'd by God for your Conversion, and look upon it as your principal End; Beg of him to know what his Will is, that you should perform, to do Penance: Pray incessantly for this intent, and go to take Counsel, to learn there what you must do.

As for the Marks of a Vocation, there are also three, which are, Humility, Quiet of Mind, and Perseverance. By Humility, I understand that Vertue which makes us wholly distrust our own Judgment in an Affair of such importance, to follow that of the more wise. By Quiet of Mind, I mean a Disposition to follow the Will of God, on whatsoever side it may incline, when we shall sufficiently know it. By Per­severance, I understand the long continu­ance of an Inspiration, amidst the Obsta­cles and Difficulties which occur.

These are the three most ordinary Marks by which the Spirit of God makes [Page 439]himself known to us; and if any of those be wanting, you have reason to doubt of your Vocation; as on the contrary, if you have them all together, you have good cause to believe that God calls you. If some say to you, that there is no need of Deliberating so exactly about entring into Religion, because there is a Year of Noviceship, to try their Vocation by the Marks and Pra­ctices we have spoken of. I answer, That this would be true, if it were as easie to go out of Religion, as to enter into it; and if this going out did not draw after it so many bad Consequences as ordinarily it doth. But because it frequently happens, that those who are enter'd into Religion, are kept there by the fear of being account­ed Inconstant, or for some other human Consideration, which makes them engage themselves in that State badly, and without a Vocation; or chancing to depart from Religion, are look'd upon by the World as Inconstant, contemn'd as People fit for no­thing; and what is yet worse, it happens, often, that leaving the Religious Habit, they also forsake Vertue, and lead a Life very different from what they had begun in Religion. For all these Reasons I con­tinue to say, that a Man must Examin the Vocation before he enters into Religion; and for this intent take all the time that shall be necessary to be morally assur'd of it.

Act so then, Theotime, if you perceive your self mov'd to Religion, and be not [Page 440]afraid of losing your Vocation, if you put it not suddenly in Execution; for if you practise faithfully what we have said, with a sincere Intention to know the Will of God, you will not fail in the Resolution you shall take; God will conduct you in that Deliberation to the State he hath pre­par'd for you; and if he call you to Reli­gion, he will confirm you in that Desire by the Perseverance he will give you, and per­fect in you the good Work he shall have begun, according to that Expression of S. Paul, Qui caepit in vos opus bonum, perfi­ciet, confirmabit, solidabitque.

After all, when you resolve to embrace a Religious Life, remember to prefer a­mongst the Religious, those where a Re­gular Life is most exactly observ'd, and where they solidly labor to gain Piety, and as much as you can, where there is least Communication with the World.

Of the divers States of a Secular Life.

AS the Life of Ecclesiastics and Religi­gious has its Dangers, the Secular Life hath also its Perils, which are not small; he who deliberates on it, ought ne­cessarily to foresee them: And these Dan­gers are different, according to the divers States of that Life. Wherefore I Treat here of the principal Callings of a Secular [Page 441]Life, to the end every one may Examin that which he will embrace, and may know well its Obligations.

Of the Condition of the Great, and of those who Govern others.

If there be a difficult and dangerous Condition in the World,Maxims to be observ'd by those who Go­vern others. it is the Office of those who are call'd to Govern others; as Kings and Princes, who have Sovereign Authority; Lords of particular Places, who have an inferior Authority; Magi­strates and Publick Officers, who have an assign'd Authority committed to them by the Prince. If then by your Condition, or for any other Cause, you see your self de­sign'd for a State of Government, you ought to arm your self against the great Difficul­ties, and innumerable Dangers of that State, with wholsom Christian Maxims, whereof these are the principal, which I beseech you read attentively.

1. Have a care of giving access to the thoughts of Pride or Presumption, for see­ing your self rais'd above others: Re­member that by how much higher you are rais'd, by so much more have you reason to fear, according to that Maxim of the Scripture,Quanto major es, hu­milia te in omnibus. Eccl. 3. By how much you are greater, humble your self in all things. b Is Authority conferr'd upon you? be not puffed up.

2. Consider not your State as a Happi­ness, but as a weighty Charge; nor as a thing given you for your good, but for the benefit of others. Know, that those whom you Command, are not made for you, but you for them: They ow Respect and O­bedience to you, and you ow to them things that are far more difficult, that is, Care, Assistance, Conservation, and Justice.

3. Believe firmly, that how great Power soever you have, you hold it from God, and that you are his Minister and his Ser­vant for the Government of Men, and by consequence, that you ought to Govern according to his Will, and shall give him an exact Account of your Conduct.

4. Place frequently before your Eyes that dreadful Truth of the Sacred Scri­pture,Judicium durissimum his qui prae­sunt, fiet. Po­tentes potenter tormenta patientur. Sap. 6.6, & 7. A rigorous Judgment shall they have who Rule. The Powerful shall be powerfully tormented.

Now there are two things you ought to have a care of in your Condition;Governors ought to have a care of two things. the First, to Live well; the Second, to Govern well.

As for the First,1. To Live well. you must live like a vertuous Man, governing your Passions, having the Law of God for the Rule of your Actions, considering that it is a shame­ful thing to Govern others, and to be igno­rant of governing ones self; to Command Men, and to be a Servant and Slave to his own Passions and the Devil.

You are oblig'd to it by the Rank you bear, for you hold the place of God; you ought to imitate his Sanctity, as you re­present his Person in Power and Autho­rity.

You are also oblig'd to it for the benefit of your Inferiors, who cannot but be mi­serable when they are Govern'd by a wick­ed Man.In multipli­catione justo­rum laetabitur vulgus; cum impii sumpse­rint principa­tum gemet populus. Prov. 29. The People shall rejoyce, says the Wiseman, in the multiplication of the Just, but will lament when the Wicked hold the Government.

For this reason in the ancient Law, God had commanded that the King, and it ought to be understood of all those who Command, should always have with him the Book of the Law, and should read it daily,Ut discat timere Domi­num Deum suum, & custo­dire verba & ceremonias ejus quae in le­ge praecepta sunt. Deut. 17. To the end, says he, he may learn to fear the Lord his God, and observe his Words, and the Ceremonies which are there commanded.

Moreover, your Example will much in­fluence your Superiors; if you be good, they will imitate your Vertue; if you be vicious, they will take all liberty to be wicked, according to the Maxim of the Wiseman,Secundum judicem po­puli sic & mi­nistri ejus. Qualis rector est civitatis sic & habitan­tes in ea. Eccl. 10. As the Judge of the People is himself, so are his Officers. The Inhabitants of a City conform themselves to him who Go­verns them. By your Example you will cause many Blessings, or much Mischief, and you will be guilty in the sight of God of all the Sins others shall commit by your Imitation.

Call to mind the History of Jeroboam King of Israel: A remarkable Example. This Man being rais'd to the Government of the Ten Tribes of Israel, had no sooner the Authority in his Hand, but he misfortunately abus'd it, abandoning the Service of the true God to adore Idols. His Example had so great a force, that he not only drew to his Imi­tation all that great People he Command­ed, who became Idolaters like him, but also made that Sin of Idolatry hold on its Course in all his Successors during the space of Two hundred Years and more; and the Sacred Scripture had such a horror for the Mischief this misfortunate Prince caus'd by his Example, that almost every time it speaks of him, it says,Tradet Do­minus Israel propter pec­cata Jerobo­am qui pecca­vit, & fecit Israel pecca­re. 3 Reg. 14. He who sinn'd, and made Israel to sin: And speak­ing of each of his Successors, it says,Fecit ma­lum coram Domino am­bulans in via Jeroboam & in peccato ejus, qui peccare fecit Is­rael. Cap. 16.19. They follow'd the ways of Jeroboam, who made Is­rael to sin; reproaching and shewing a per­petual detestation of the Sin of that wick­ed Prince, by reason of the dreadful Con­sequence of his ill Example.

As to the Second Care you ought to have,2. To Govern well. which is to Govern well, remem­ber, that those who Govern bear the Image of God, Governing visibly Inferiors by their Conduct, as he Governs invisibly all things by his Providence. If you be his Image, you ought to endeavor to resemble him: And as he Governs not only by ex­ercising [Page 445]his Power, but also his Wisdom, his Goodness, and his Justice, you must also exercise your Authority with these Qualities, performing nothing but with much Wisdom, treating your Inferiors with a Fatherly Goodness, and giving Ju­stice to every one.Leo rapiens, & Ursus esuri­ens, Princeps impius super populum su­um. Prov. 28. Authority exercis'd without Wisdom is a Brutishness, without Goodness is a Tyranny, and without Ju­stice is a Robbing.

You must employ your Authority and Power chiefly to conserve Religion,What he must do to Govern well. to ad­vance the Honor of God, destroy Vice, ex­terminate the Wicked, and to maintain and augment Piety amongst those who are subject to you; that is the principal End for which all Temporal Power is Esta­blish'd by God: And if you be defective in that, he in his Judgment will exact a a most strict Account for it.Faelices eos dicimus si ju­ste imperant, si suam pote­statem ad Dei cultum maxi­me dilatan­dum majestati ejus famulam faciunt. S. Aug. lib. 5. de Civit. Dei cap. 14. S. Augustin says, That the Great ones ought to make their Authority subservient to God, to ex­tend much, and increase his Honor and Religion.

Next to Religion and Piety, you must have a care of the Temporal good of your Inferiors, that is, of their Quiet and Se­curity, and Protection against the Wick­ed. This is the Second End for which God hath Establiish'd you: For this reason give ear willingly to the Complaints of the Oppressed, and easie Access to every one. [Page 446]It is a grievous Evil amongst the Great ones, that Little ones cannot approach to them, to have recourse to their Justice, as the Scripture it self complains,Pupillo non judicant, & causa viduae non ingredi­tur ad illos. Isai. 1. They do not Justice to Orphans, and the Cause of the Widow enters not unto them. Expect not that one should complain; but inform your self carefully of the Disorders which reign a­mongst your Inferiors, to the end you may aply a necessary Remedy.

Permit not your self to be surpris'd by Flatteries,Governors ought to avoid, 1. Flatterers. which pervert the Mind of Great ones, whose Condition is most mis­fortunate in this Point; for they are scarce ever told the truth in the things they are oblig'd to know. Banish Flatterers far from you, and esteem them as your greatest Enemies, as in reality they are. Place fre­quently hefore your Eyes that deplorable Example of Joas Postquam autem obilt Josada, ingres­si sunt Princi­pes Juda & adora verunt Regem, qui delinitus ob­sequiis eorum, acquievit eis, & derelique­runt templum Domini Dei patrum suo­rum, servie­runtque lucis & sculptili­bus. 2 Par. 24. King of Juda, who af­ter he had spent many Years in a holy Life, was misfortunately perverted by the Flat­tery of his Courtiers, even to entirely de­sert, by their Persuasion, the Service of God, and fall into Idolatry, which is the most heinous of all Crimes. Conceive a horror for those Persons. On the contra­ry, love those who tell you the truth, ma­nifest an Affection for those who admonish you, give them the liberty to do so. Make choice of one, or many Persons for your confident Friends, to whom give express Charge to advertise you of things where­in you are defective, and of all they shall judge fitting; it is a thing which is want­ing [Page 447]to all Great ones, and to all those who are in Office.

Have a care of Covetousness, and of that insatiable Desire of Mony, which is the Plague of Great ones,Quare atte­ritis populum meum & faci­es eorum com­molitis. Isai. 3. Principes ejus in medio illius quasi lupi ra­pientes. Ezech. 32. and of those who Govern, and which makes them commit a vast number of Crimes: For from thence arise unjust Actions, Violences, Oppressi­ons of the Innocent, unreasonable Exacti­ons, and a thousand other Disorders, which make the People groan under the Injustice and Tyranny of Great ones, which God by his Prophets so much detests.

Revenge is also an Evil you ought very much to avoid:3. Revenge. Great ones permit them­selves many times to be carry'd away with it, by so much more easily as they have Power in their Hands, and frequent­ly execute it under the pretence of Justice, when it proceeds only from a pure Passion, in which they grosly deceive themselves; for Justice only regards the Publick good, or the Amendment of him whom it punish­eth; but Revenge seeks its own proper Satisfaction.

Yet in flying Revenge and Passion,4. Negligence in punishing Criminals. be careful of falling into another Extream, which is too much Mildness, and Remiss­ness in punishing Crimes. You are oblig'd to be exact in that, principally when they are against the Publick good, and yet more when they injure Religion; you must answer it before God if you be wanting therein.A remarkable Example. Achab King of Israel having pardon'd the Life of a wicked Man, God [Page 484]sends a Prophet to him to tell him, that he should answer Soul for Soul for it;Quia dimisisti virum dignum morte, erit a­nima tua pro anima ejus. 3 Reg. 29. Because thou hast dismissed a Man worthy of Death, thy Life shall be put for his; which Menace punctually fell out: for after three years he was defeated in a Battel, and kill'd by that very Man whose Life he had par­don'd.

In fine, that you may know what it is to Govern, I shall cite you here two very au­thentick Pieces for the Instruction of Great ones, which I exhort you to consider at­tentively.

The First is out of the Sacred Scri­pture,A considerable Advertisement. in the Sixth Chapter of Wisdom, wherein is contain'd this terrible Admo­nition, which the Holy Ghost gives to Great ones,Audite er­go Reges & intelligite, discite judices finium terrae. Praebete aures vos qui conti­netis multitu­dines, & pla­cetis vobis in turbis natio­num, quoni­am data est à Domino pote­stas vobis, & virtus ab Al­tissimo, qui in­terrogabit o­pera vestra, & cogitationes scrutabitur, quoniam cum essetis mini­stri regni illi­us, non recte judicastis, nec custodistis le­gem justitiae, nec secundum voluntatem Dei ambulastis. Horrende & cito appa­rebit vobis quoniam judicium durissimum, his qui praesunt, fiet: Exiguo enim conceditur misericordia, potentes autem potenter tormenta patientur. Non enim subtrabet personam cujusquam Deus, nec verebitur magnitudinem cujusquam: quoniam pusillum & magnum ipse fecit, & aequaliter cura est illi de omnibus; for­tioribus autem fortior instat cruciatio. Sap. 6. vers. 2. Hear, ô you Kings, and un­derstand, ô you Judges of the Earth; be at­tentive, you who Govern the People, and take pleasure in Commanding. Authority is given you from God, and Power from the most High, who will try your Works, and search out your Imaginations. Because being Offi­cers of his Kingdom, you have not judged aright, nor observed the Law, nor walked after the Will of God, horribly and suddenly will he appear unto you; for a hard Judgment shall they have who bear Rule. For he who is most low is worthy of Mercy, but the Mighty shall be mightily tormented. For God who commands all things, shall spare no Per­son, neither shall he fear any Greatness, for he hath made the Small and the Great, and hath an equal care of all. But for the [Page 449]Mighty he hath reserv'd a sorer Trial. I would to God all those who have any Au­thority in the World, would read often this Admonition.

The other authentick Piece which I propose unto you, is in Book 5. Chap. 14. of the City of God, written by S. Augustin, where he describes in this manner the Obligations of the Great ones.

We esteem not Christian Emperors happy, Neque enim nos Christia­nos quosdam Imperatores ideo foelices dicimus, quia vel diutius imperant, vel imperantes fi­lios morte placida reli­querunt, vel hostes reipu­blicae domue­runt, vel ini­micos cives adversus se insurgentes, & cavere & opprimere potuerunt. Haec enim & alia vitae hu­jus aerumno­sae vel munera vel solatia, quidam etiam cultores Dae­monum acci­pere merue­runt, qui non pertinent ad regnum Dei, quo pertinent isti. Et hoc ipsius miseri­cordia factum est, ne ab illo ista qui in e­um crederent velut summa bona desidera­rent. Sed eos soelices dici­mus, qui juste imperant, si inter linguas sublimiter ho­norantium, & obsequia ni­mis humiliter salutantium non se extol­lant, sed se homines esse meminerunt. Si suam pote­statem ad Dei cultum maxi­me dilatan­dam, majesta­ti ejus famulam saciunt. Si Deum timent, diligunt, colunt. Si plus amant illud regnum ubi non timent habere consortes, si tar­dius vindicant, facile ignoscunt, si eandem vindictam pro utilitate regendae tuendaeque reipublicae, non pro saturandis inimicitiarum odiis exercent. Si eandem veniam non ad impunitatem iniquita­tis, sed ad spem correctionis indulgent. Si quod aspere cogantur plerumque discernere misericordiae lenitate, & beneficiorum lar­gitate compensant. Si luxuria tanto eis est castigatio, quanto possit esse liberior. Si malunt cupiditatibus pravis, quam quibus­libet imperare, & si haec omnia faciunt non propter ardorem glo­riae inanis, sed propter charitatem foelicitatis aeternae. Si pro suis peccatis humilitatis, miserationis, & orationis sacrificium Deo suo vero immolare non negligunt. Tales Christianos Imperato­res dicimus esse foelices interim spe, postea relpsa futuros, cum id quod expectamus advenerit. and the same in proportion is to be said of all Great ones, because they Command a long time; nor because being dead in peace, they have left after them Children Inheritors of their Fortune; or because they have conquer'd their Enemies, Strangers, or Domesticks; for all these things, which appertain only to the Fa­vors and Consolations of this miserable Life, have been granted to Pagans, who have no part of the Kingdom of God; and God acts thus by an Effect of his Mercy, that Christians may not desire of him these Goods as their Sove­reign Happiness: But we account them happy if they Govern justly; If they be not pussed up with Pride and Presumption in the midst of the high Praises which are given them, and too low Respect which is shewn them, but [Page 450]remember that they are mortal Men; If they make their Authority subservient to the Ma­jesty of God, to extend as much as they can his Service and Religion; If they fear, love, and honor God; If they affect more the Eter­nal Kingdom, where they shall not fear to have Companions, than their mortal and pe­rishable Kingdom; If they proceed maturely to the punishment of Crimes; If they pardon ea­sily; If they inflict Chastisement for the good Government and Conservation of the Publick, and not to satisfie their particular Hatred or Revenge; and if they consent to pardon upon the prospect of the amendment of the Guilty, when there is hopes of it, and not thro' a neglect of punishing Crimes; If they sweet­en by Benefits and Mercy the Sharpness they are oblig'd to observe in many Occurrences; If they by so much more abstain from Plea­sure and unlawful Delights, as they have Power and Liberty to enjoy them; If they make more account of governing their Passions, than having Command over all the Nations of the World; If they perform all these things, not for the desire of earthly Glory, but for the love of Life everlasting; If they humble themselves before God, and if they have a care of offer­ing him a Sacrifice of Prayer to obtain Pardon for their Sins: We say, that Great ones, who live in this manner, are happy in this Life by Hope, as they shall be hereafter in Effect.

Of the Offices of Justice, and Magistracy.

All that we have said belongs also to Judges and Magistrates; but there are yet other Obligations particular unto them, for which those who look upon themselves as design'd for those Charges ought care­fully to be prepar'd.

If you be of that number,An important Advice. besides the former Advices, which you ought atten­tively to read, to put them in practice, be­cause they concern you, you shall carefully observe those which follow.

1. Place chiefly before your Eyes that considerable Advertisement which holy King Josaphat, King of Juda, gave to his Judges.Praecipiens Judicibus, vi­dete, ait, quid faciatis, non enim hominis exercetis ju­dicium, sed Domini, & quodcunque judicaveritis in vos redundabit. Sit timor Domini [...]obiscum, & cum diligentia cuncta facite. 2 Par. 1. Have a care, said he to them, what you do; for it is not the Judgment of Man which you Exercise, but of God: And what you shall judge shall fall upon you. Let the Fear of God be with you, and perform all things with care and diligence.

2. That you may practise these Adver­tisements, have a care to study and under­stand your Profession, and make your self capable to perform well your Office, with­out committing any Faults therein. Re­member that the Possession, Honor, and frequently the Lives of Men, depend upon your Mouth: If by your Incapacity you commit any Faults in Judging these things, you are responsible for all the Wrong your Neighbor shall suffer by it.

3. Being capable of your Charge, trust not so much to your Ability, as ever to do any thing hastily, and without having well Examin'd the Cause you Judge.Causam quam nesciebam di­ligentissime in vestiga­bam. I di­ligently Examin'd (says the holy Man Job) a Cause which I was ignorant of. Rely not also on the Judgment of your Companions, nor much less on those who Labor under you. Know, that if you Judge ill, either by Ignorance, or Rashness, or by Determi­nating upon the Judgment of another, you are oblig'd to Restitution of all the Wrong you have caus'd by your Decree. Observe this well, for there are few Judges who reflect upon this Truth.

4. Never permit your self to be cor­rupted, either by Presents, which a Judge ought to fly as from the Plague.Non accipi­es personam nec munera, quia munera excaecant o­culos sapien­tum, & mutant verba justo­rum. Deut 26. Vae vobis qui justicatis im­pium pro muneribus, & justitiam justi aufertis ab eo. Isai. 5. You shall not receive Gifts, says the Scripture, speaking to Judges, because they blind the Eyes of the Wise, and pervert the Words of the Just. Wo be to you who justifie the Wicked by your Presents, and deprive the Just of their [Page 453]Right. Nor also by Threats, nor Promi­ses, nor Flatteries of Men, nor by any Persuasion. A Judge ought to be above all these things, and have an immovable Resolution never to commit any Injustice upon what account soever, according to that excellent Precept of the Wiseman,Pro justitia agonizare quasi pro ani­ma tua, & usque ad mortem certa pro justitia. Eccl. 4. Engage for Justice as much as for your Life, and defend it even until Death.

5. Have a care of being an accepter of Persons; it is an Evil which easily creeps into the Minds of Judges and Magistrates, and causes them to commit many Injusti­ces. They give free liberty to the Rich, they hearken favourably to them, dispatch their Affairs, and favor them in all things:Causam vi­duae non judi­caverunt: causam pupil­li non direxe­runt, & judi­cium paupe­rum non judi­caverunt. Jer. 5. But the Poor and Mean can find no ad­mittance to them; they are repuls'd, their Causes are neglected, and drawn out into extream Delays, which often ruin them, or notably incommode them. These are the Injustices which spring from the acceptation of Persons, and which God strictly prohibits to Judges.Audite illos, & quod justum est judicate, sive civis ille fuerit sive pe­regrinus. Nul­la erit distan­tia persona­rum: ita par­vum audietis ut magnum, nec accipietis personam cujusquam, quia Dei judicium est, Deut. 1. Hearken, says he, to those whom you Judge, and give Sentence justly, whether he be a Citizen or a Stranger, there shall be no difference of Per­sons. You shall hear the Little as well as the Great, and there shall be no acceptation of the Person of any one, because this is the Judg­ment of God.

6 Be resolute to resist Evil, to oppose Injustices and Violences, which you see exercis'd by the Wicked, and chiefly by Great ones: You are oblig'd to employ therein all that you rationally and piously can.Noli quae­rere fieri ju­dex, nisi vale­as virtute ir­rumpere ini­quitates, ne forte exti­mescas faciem potentis, & ponas scanda­lum in agili­tate tua. Eccl. 7. Seek not to be Judge, says the Wise­man, if you have not sufficient courage stoutly to resist Iniquities, lest perhaps fearing the Face of a Great one, you become wanting to your Duty. God puts this Compliance of Judges with Great ones, amongst the chief­est Corruptions of the Earth,Princeps postulat & judex in [...]d­dendo e [...]. Mi [...]. 7. A Prince requires, and the Judge grants what he plea­ses. Have a care of this Fault, which makes Judges and Magistrates most cul­pable in the sight of God; and hold it for a Maxim, That you should rather lose all your Goods, and Life it self, than comply with the Wills of Great ones when they are unjust.

Hinder also, as much as you can, all Co­zening, Wrangling, Cheating, and Inju­stices which are committed in Processes by Advocates, Procurators, and Officers of Justice.

7. Be just in punishing Crimes, extermi­nating Malefactors, and all those who di­sturb the Publick Quiet, and Security of the State, without excepting of Persons. Call to mind King Achab, of whom we have spoken in the former Title.

8. Be a Protector of the Poor, of Wi­dows and Orphans, and of all those who suffer Injustices. You are oblig'd to it by your Charge, and in performing this you [Page 455]will draw down upon you the Divine Be­nediction. Learn that excellent Precept of the Holy Ghost himself, utter'd by the Mouth of the Wiseman,Libera eum qui injuriam patitur de manu superbi, & non acide feras in ani­ma tua; in ju­dicando esto pupillis mise­ricors ut pa­ter, & pro vi­ro matri illo­rum & eris tu velut Altissi­mi filius obe­diens, & mise­rebitur tui magis quam mater. Eccl. 4. Deliver from the Hands of the Wicked him who suffers In­justice, and perform it not with a regret, or as the Greek hath it, be not remiss. In Judg­ing be as a Father to Orphans, and as a Hus­band to their Mother, taking upon you their Protection; and in doing thus you shall be the Child of God, executing his Will, and he will have more than a Motherly Bounty for you. O happy Consolation for a Judge, when in reality he may say as the holy Man Job, Auris audi­ens beatifica­bat me, & oculus videns testimonium reddebat mihi. Eo quod li­berassem pauperem vociferantem & pupillum cui non esset adju­tor. Benedictio perituri super me veniebat, & cor viduae conso­latus sum, pater eram pauperum. Job. 29. The publick Voice gave testimony that he defended the Poor and Orphan, who cry'd to him for succor; when they had no one to help them; he deliver'd him who was persecuted, and comforted the Heart of Widows, and was a Father of the Poor.

9. Be careful not to commit the Crimes you punish. With what Front can you pu­nish a Crime whereof you are guilty? So many Judgments as you give, so many times do you pronounce a Sentence against your self, which will serve for your Condemnati­on at the Divine Judgment. There you shall be reproach'd for punishing Thieves, you your self having stoln the Goods of ano­ther, in exacting what was not your due, in appropriating unjustly to your self the [Page 456]Goods which were taken by Thieves, which you ought to have restor'd to the right Owners; wherein you are more a Robber than the Thieves themselves; be­cause being constituted to render to every one what belongs to him, you are the first who have violently taken his Goods.

In fine, Theotime, have a great care of Judging or Governing others, except you have Four Qualities,Four Qualities requir'd in Judges. which the Sacred Scripture requires in those who Judge or Govern; which are, Wisdom, The Fear of God, The Love of Justice, And the Hatred of Covetousness. These are the Four Con­ditions which the Scripture points at in the wise Counsel Jethro gave to Moses, Provide de omni plebe vitos sapien­tes & timen­res Deum, in quibas in ve­ritas & qui o­derint avaritiam, & constitue ex eis tribunos & centuriones qui judicent populum. Exod. 18. by which he advis'd him to choose wise Men, fearing God, loving Truth, that is, Justice, and Enemies of Avarice, to Govern the Peo­ple of Israel.

These Four Qualities, with all that we have said of Judges and Magistrates, must proportionably be understood of Advo­cates and Solicitors, of whom we shall speak hereafter, of all Officers, and of all those who have Publick Charges.

Of a Court-Life.

This Life is full of Dangers and Preci­pices,The Dangers of a Courtiers Life which are very hardly to be avoided [Page 457]by them who are engag'd therein. Com­mon Vertues are easily there corrupted, the most solid are there shaken, and it is very difficult not to be destroy'd in it. It is a Life wherein Pride, Ambition, Vanity, Idleness, Excess, Intemperance, a disordi­nate love of Pleasures, an insatiable Co­vetousness of the Goods of the World do apparently reign. If there be any Reli­gion, it is only in shew and hypocrisie; every one makes so much appear as is ne­cessary to arrive at his End. Solid Vertue is there contemn'd, mock'd, and many times persecuted. An insatiable desire of growing Great possesses the Minds of all. Every one thinks of nothing but his Inte­rest and Fortune. From thence spring the Flattering of Great ones, a loose Compla­cence towards all the World, unworthy Submission, false Friendships, Dissimulati­on, which shews a pleasing Countenance to those whom they hate in their Heart. From thence Envies, Cozening, Cheats, malicious Intrigues, unjust Means to sup­plant others, and to advance themselves at their Expence. From thence irreconcila­ble Enmities, Revenge, and many dread­ful Accidents take their rise.

If things be so, how can one be Sav'd in this Condition, you'll say? And what must they do who see themselves destinated for that State? I answer, that altho' Salva­tion be not absolutely impossible in that Condition, yet it is very difficult, and those who see themselves like to be engag'd [Page 458]therein, ought to stand in great fear, and arm themselves with great Precautions a­gainst the Dangers of that Life. See here what you must bring with you, if any Ne­cessity, or Birth, or any Office design you for that State.

The First Precaution is,1. Precaution. to bring thither a Mind fully convinc'd of the Vanity of Earthly things, of Greatness, of Riches, of Pleasures; all these things pass, and you shall pass with them, but Eternity shall never pass.

The Second is,2. Precaution. to bring with you a Mind limited in the desire of preferring your self, and advancing your Fortune; confine your self to your Condition, and as for the rest, make account that the great Fortune you are to raise, is to pro­cure your Salvation. What doth it profit a Man, says the Son of God, to get the whole World, and lose his own Soul? to be happy for a short time, and miserable for all Eternity? O what an admirable For­tune is that, Theotime, to gain Heaven.

The Third is,3. Precaution. to make a firm Resolu­tion to live like a true Christian, and ne­ver to offend God upon any Account what­soever. Renew often this Resolution, and demand of God daily the Grace to observe it faithfully.

The Fourth is,4. Precaution. to carry your self wisely in all your Actions, Offend no one, be Cir­cumspect, Civil, ready to offer your Ser­vice, to oblige all that you can, and that not out of a worldly Compliance, nor Poli­cy, [Page 459]but out of Charity. Dissemble much the things which shall be said or done to you. Give not credit easily to Reports which are spread abroad, which ordinarily are false, or upon some ill Design. Have a care of the Friendship you contract, lest it should be with a Person whose Example or Conversation might change your Mind, and withdraw you from the Path of Ver­tue, which is much to be fear'd in a Life at Court.

In fine, as this State is full of Dangers, you have need of arming your self strongly by frequent and daily Prayers, by frequent­ing the Sacraments, by the Counsel of a wise Person, by the Reading of pious Books, and by the Example of those who liv'd holily in the Court of Princes, or those who yet lead there their Life in great Vertue.

Of the Profession of Arms.

This Condition is no less dangerous than the former, and abounding with as many Obstacles of Salvation. It is good in it self, it being necessary for the Conser­vation of the Realm against the Violences of Strangers, and for the Defence of Reli­gion against her Enemies; but it is become so corrupted, that it is almost impossible to be Sav'd therein.

Amongst the Vices which reign in this [Page 460]Profession, there are Five very common, and most enormous ones. The First is a great Irreligion, which makes them con­temn the Service of God and their own Salvation. And this Irreligion frequently extends it self to Impiety & Atheism. The Second, an execrable Custom of Swearing and Blaspheming. The Third, an unbri­dled Impurity, which reigns in that Call­ing in an incredible manner. The Fourth, a madness of Duelling, which miserably sacrifices to the Devil, and Eternal Flames, a vast number of that Profession. The Fifth consists in Rapines, unjust Exactions, Violences, and ill Treating those who can­not resist.

It is a most difficult thing to be of that Profession, and not to fall into these Vices: The wisest and most vertuous learn them sooner or later, and are deprav'd at the end by the Example or Persuasion of o­thers.

O Theotime, if any inevitable Necessity destinate you for that State, know, that you cannot sufficiently apprehend your Danger; and if you will avoid your Eter­nal Ruin, you have need of arming your self powerfully against these Enemies and Dangers which environ you.

1. Embrace not that Calling but with Reason, and for a good Cause; as, because your Birth obliges you thereto,Non enim militare deli­ctum est, sed propter prae­dam militare peccatum est. S. Aug. Serm. 19. de Verb. Domini. or for Publick Necessity, or other good Reason, and not for a Capricho and Licenciousness, for Idleness and Sloth, for a desire of rai­sing [Page 461]your Fortune, nor much less to enrich your self by Spoils, Robberies, and Extor­tions. These are the most ordinary Mo­tives of those who cast themselves into that Condition,Apud omnem Christianum prima hone­statis debet esse militia. Idem ibid. and the first Fountain of the Misfortunes we see therein.

2.Hoc primum cogita quan­do armaris ad pugnam, quia virtus tua e­tiam ipsa cor­poralis, do­num Dei est; sic enim cogi­tabis de dono Dei non facere contra Deum. S. Aug. Epist. 205. ad Bonifac. Make a Resolution to live like a vertuous Man, fearing God, flying the particular Vices of that Profession, not concerning your self for what others shall say of you; they will cause you some trou­ble in the beginning, but at the end you will get above them.

3. Place not your Generosity and Cou­rage in appearing Valiant, in suffering no­thing from any Person, in Fighting upon all Occasions, but in Serving faithfully and couragiously your Prince and Coun­try in all Occurrences.

4. Arm your self against the tyranny of Duels, by a firm Resolution never to Fight a Duel; a Resolution, without which you can never be in the State of Grace, but in a perpetual State of mortal Sin and Damnation. Ought not this sole Thought to raise in you a horror for Duels? Al­tho' you perform all the Good imaginable, altho' you lead a Life as holy as the great­est Saints, except you have this Resolution of not Fighting a Duel, you are not in the [Page 462]State of Salvation: All your Confessions are Sacrileges and Abominations in the sight of God, because you still continue in a Will to offend him mortally: Even that which you shall make at the hour of Death, if you have time to make it, will avail you nothing; for never having had this Resolution during your whole Life, it is almost impossible you should have a true and sincere one at the hour of your Death.

I could bring you here many powerful Reasons against this madness of Duels.Divers Reasons against Duels. A Duel is not an Action of Courage; Cou­rage consists in exposing ones Life for the Publick Good, in defending ones self when he is assaulted: Now in a Duel you ex­pose your Life without necessity, for a Displeasure, for a Revenge, which is per­mitted to no Man; oftentimes for pure Folly and Childishness, sometimes to please another, who requests that Service of you, that is, to sacrifice your Life, and damn your Soul for his Quarrel. Now you expose therein your Life, which is not yours, but belongs to God, and the Publick. The Ho­nor which is pretended to be forfeited by avoiding or refusing a Duel, is an imagi­nary Honor, there being none but worldly and wicked Persons who condemn this Re­fusal, which is prais'd and approv'd by wise and good People. All discreet Men detest Duels, and none but the wicked ap­prove them. The Law punishes them as Enemies of the Publick Good. Your Prince, [Page 463]to whom you ow Obedience, forbids them. The Church detests and condemns them; She Excommunicates all those who Fight Duels, or contribute any thing to them; She deprives of Ecclesiastical Burying, all those who die in that Combat.

Without stopping to Treat at large these most powerful Reasons, I shall con­tent my self to make you consider two things. 1.Two strong Reasons against Duels. That a Duel is a Crime in the sight of God. 2. That it is incompati­ble with your Salvation.

It is a Crime as great, as Homicide or Murther is great and enormous. Re­member how Homicide or Murther is detested by God: It is a Crime which de­stroys the Image of God, and the Work­manship of his Hands; God hath such a horror for it, that he would not have him pardon'd who is guilty of it.Quicunque effuderit hu­manum san­guinem, fun­detur sanguis illius, ad ima­ginem quippe Dei factus est homo. Gen. 9. Whosoever, says he, sheds human Blood, his Blood shall be shed, being Man is made to the Image of God. He threatens to extend his Revenge there­of even toSanguinem animarum ve­strarum re­quiram de manu cuncta­rum bestia­rum. Ibid. Beasts, which had taken away Man's Life, to manifest what a horror he had for Murther. By this, judge of the quality of a Duel, by which you go to spill the Blood of your Brother, destroy the Image of God, and what is yet more horri­ble, to ruin for ever the Soul of your Adver­sary, or your own, for each of which Jesus Christ hath dy'd: Or if you arrive not at these Misfortunes, you expose your self to evident danger of falling into them, and so you are as criminal in the sight of God [Page 464]as if the Effect succeeded. Consider that this Blood which you shall have shed,Vox sangui­nis fratris tui clamat ad me de terra. Gen. 14. will cry to God for Vengeance against you, as that of Abel against Cain; Anima vul­neratorum clamavit, & Deus inultam abire non pa­titur. Job. 24. that the Soul which you have destroy'd will curse you eternally; that your Conscience will con­tinually reproach you for your Crime, and will cause particular Disturbances, Terrors, and Apprehensions of the Divine Judgment and Vegeance, which you shall never escape either in this World, or in the next.

From hence follows the Second Truth which I have propos'd to you, viz. That a Duel is incompatible with Salvation. Where by a Duel I understand not the actual Fighting, but the Will of Duelling; because the Will to commit a Crime, is directly opposite to Salvation. You must then either renounce Duels, or your Sal­vation; Consider which you will re­nounce. This is very difficult, you'll say: 'Tis true, but it is necessary. It is difficult principally in the Corruption of the Times; but your Salvation is concern'd. It is hard in the beginning, but in time, and by the Grace of God, it becomes easie. In a word, Theotime, you will conquer the Difficulties, if you will apply your self se­riously to it, and make use of the follow­ing Means.

1. Demand of God the Grace to re­nounce from your Heart that tyranny, and never to yield to it.

2. Be convinc'd of the nature of a Duel, [Page 465]that a Duel is a wicked Action, base and impertinent, forbidden by God,Detestabilis duellorum u­sus, fabrican­te diabolo, in­troductus; ut cruenta cor­porum morte animarum etiam perni­ciem lucretur, ex orbe penitus exterminetur. Conc. Trid. Sess. 25. cap. 19. detested by the Church, contrary to the Publick Good, an Enemy of our Salvation, a Mad­ness; the tyranny of a detestable Custom, and Invention of the Devil, to destroy Souls by the bloody Death of the Body, as the Council of Trent speaks.

3. Call to mind those of your Acquain­tance who are dead in Duels, and lost for ever: Judge what Apprehensions they have now of Duels, and what Renunciations they would make of them, if they could return into the World; but there is no more time for them.

4. When any one shall Challenge you, answer him aloud, That you will not Fight, a Duel being forbidden both by Divine and Human Laws. If any one accuse you of Cowardise, tell him, That you know well how to shew your Courage in good Occasions, for the Service of your Prince and Country. If he threaten to assault you wheresoever he shall find you, answer, That you will defend your self, but make no Appointment either directly or indi­rectly, saying, I pass by such a Place, or the like. If after this he attack you, defend your self.

5. Avoid the Causes of Duels, as Quar­rels and Enmities. Offend no Person; or if by Imprudence, or otherwise, you wrong [Page 466]any one, give him Satisfaction, and declare you had no intention to offend him. This is what concerns Duels.

As for what remains towards the regu­lating your Life, be no Swearer, and Blas­phemer as others. See what we have said of Oaths,Ornet mores tuos pudicitia conjugalis, ornet sobrie­tas & frugali­tas. Valde e­nim turpe est, ut quem non vincit homo, vincat libido, & obruatur vino qui non vincitur ferro. S. Aug. Epist. 205. ad Bonifac. Part 4. Chap. 12. Fly Impurity like Death, there is nothing more unwor­thy of a generous Soul; and besides, it is the Source of all the Misfortunes which befall those of your Profession. See what hath been said of this Vice, Part 3. Chap. 8.

Hinder Disorders, as Duels, Blasphe­mies, Injustices, Robberies, Vexations, Violences, Sacrileges, and all other Mis­chiefs which Soldiers may commit: You are oblig'd to it when you can, and chiefly if you have Command. You shall answer to God for all the Disorders which shall be acted under you, if you have not us'd all your Endeavors to stop them. And you are oblig'd to make Restitution for all the Damage which is done to others by your Fault. Have a care of ever commanding to do an Injustice, or even to put in Exe­cution the Commands of others which you clearly see to be unjust.

Be assisting to the Afflicted,Erue eos qui ducuntur ad mortem, & qui trahuntur ad interitum, liberare necesses. Prov. 24. protect the Poor, and all those who suffer Violence or Injustice.

Be not insolent in Victory, nor cruel towards the Conquer'd, but mild and fa­vorable as much as Prudence will permit, following that Maxim of S. Augustin, Hostem pug­nantem neces­sitas perimat, non voluntas. Sicut enim re­bellanti & re­sistenti violentia redditur, ita victo vel capto misericordia jam debetur, maxime in quo pacis perturbatio non timetur. S. Aug. supra. who says, That as Force is us'd toward the Enemy who resists, so Mercy ought to be shewn to him who is overcome, when he is no more in a Condition to hurt.

Examin often your Conscience, to keep your self still in a good State; Confess fre­quently, beg of God daily that he would give you Grace to avoid the Dangers of your State and Condition.

Of other Conditions of a Secular Life.

The Four Conditions whereof we have spoken, are the most difficult and danger­ous of a Secular Life; for this reason we were oblig'd to handle them more at large. Others also have their Difficulties and Dangers, which are necessary to be fore­seen when one deliberates on them, to be arm'd in respect of them, and prepar'd to surmount them; I shall here only run o­ver the most considerable.

Counsellors and Solicitors are to avoid Ignorance in their Profession, Rashness in Affairs, undertaking the Defence of bad [Page 468]Causes, that are either unjust or ill ground­ed, counselling a Process in most doubtful Affairs, answering according to the Affe­ction of the Parties, rendring all Busines­ses probable,Hi sunt qui do­cuerunt lin­guas suas lo­qui mendaci­um, diserti ad­versus justiti­am, eruditi pro falsitate, sapientes ut faciant ma­lum, eloquen­tes ut impug­nent verum. S. Bern. lib. 1. de Consid. cap. 10. making use of Cheats, Sur­prises, Cozening, Falsity, Injustices, De­traction of the Neighbor in defending themselves, speaking of the Ill he hath not done, revealing what is secret when it doth not appertain to the Cause, making Invectives, offering all sorts of Injuries, wherein they give themselves an incredi­ble Licence, as if it were permitted to vio­late Charity to conserve ones Right; ma­king their Clients suffer by Delays and Negligences, prolonging unjustly the Suits to render the Opponents Poor, and put them into an Incapacity of pursuing their just Right, pronouncing unjust Judgments, exacting more than they ought for their Wages, and particularly of poor and mean People; following poor Mens Busi­nesses negligently, continuing the Suits which might easily be ended, animating Parties one against another, fomenting Divisions and Enmities, and having with these Businesses their Minds so much em­ploy'd, that they almost never, or very rarely think of God or their Salvation, which is too ordinary amongst those of their Profession, who often revolve in their thoughts every thing except themselves, and who following the Temporal Affairs of their Neighbor, neglect the most im­portant Affair of their own Salvation.

Physicians, who are of a necessary Pro­fession for the Life and Conversation of Men, must avoid being ignorant in their Science, rash in their Advice, negligent in knowing exactly the Distempers they med­dle with, and studying for the Remedies; too confident in their own Sufficiency, little careful of the Salvation of their Pa­tients, not admonishing them in good time to set in order their Conscience, which is the cause why many die in a bad State thro' the Physicians Fault; too compla­cent in giving Judgment, and putting them to Charges without sufficient necessity, too free in attributing much to Nature and little to God, who is the Author of Nature, and other like things. I add the Dangers of Chastity, to which they are often expos'd, by reason of the necessity they have of treating with Objects which may excite Impurity, which is a Reason why they should have a great Precaution against this Vice.

Merchants ought to avoid Covetous­ness, or the excessive desire of Gain or Riches, which totally possesses their Mind, Deceits, disguising or falsifying Merchandizes, breaking their Word, un­just and excessive Gain, Usury and other Disorders. The same in proportion is to be said of Artificers and other Professions, which have relation or combination with the former.

Thus in every Profession there are Vices and Dangers, which must be known before [Page 470]one enters into them, that they may have a care of them, because without this Pre­caution they follow the great Road of o­thers, are engag'd in the Abuses of their Profession, and by these Abuses in the ruin of their Salvation.

Of the State of Marriage.

WHEN you shall be enter'd in to one of the former Employ­ments of a Civil Life, you must come ere long to settle in the World, which ordi­narily is perform'd by Marriage, and some­times, tho' more rarely, by an unmarry'd Life. I spoke nothing of these States in the first Impressions of this Book, but af­ter I made reffection of it, when I review'd it for this Edition, I conceiv'd it very pro­per to speak to you of them, and give you some necessary Advices, to make you a­void a great number of most important Faults which Men are accustom'd to fall into, in the choice of these two States, which draw after them an infinite number of Miseries, and frequently Eternal Dam­nation. To perform this profitably I shall follow the Method I have already observ'd for the Ecclesiastical and Religious State. I shall Treat of two things concerning these two States. 1. What we must con­sider to know them well. 2. The Dis­positions [Page 471]we must bring to enter well into that State, and acquit our Selves wor­thily in it.

What we must know of a Marry'd Life.

There are four things to be known of this State, its Holiness, its Obligations, its Advantages, and its Dangers.

I say First, that this State is Holy, it having been Instituted and Sanctifi'd by God himself from the beginning of the World, and since rais'd to the Dignity of a Sacrament by his Son Jesus Christ, to sanctifie the Persons that would enter into it, and to confer on them Graces necessary to acquit themselves worthily of it. Thus this State is Holy every way, by its Au­thor who is God, by the Dignity of the Sacrament which is annexed to it, by the sanctifying Grace which it augments in those who duly receive it, by the Favors and Assistances it affords them in their Necessities; and in fine, by the excellent Signification of the Union of Jesus Christ with the Church his Spouse, which made S. Paul give it the Name of aSacramen­tum hoc mag­num est, ego autem dico in Christo & in Ecclesia. Ephes. 5. great Sa­crament.

Secondly, The Holiness of this State brings with it great Obligations, whereof the First is, to enter into it Holily, that is, with the requisite Dispositions, which we shall speak of hereafter. The Second is, [Page 472]to lead to holy and truly Christian Life, in the Fear of God, and in the Observati­on of his Commandments, as it is said of theErant au­tem justi am­bo ante De­um inceden­tes in omni­bus mandatis, & justificatio­nibus Domi­ni sine quere­la. Luc. 1. Father and Mother of S. John; to observe an inviolable Fidelity to his Con­sort, to use moderately lawful Pleasures, and to refrain from those that are forbid­den, to Educate their Children in the Fear of God, provide for their Necessities, to have a care of their Temporal Settle­ment, and much more of their Eternal Sal­vation.

Thirdly, The Advantages of this State for Salvation are not so great as those of the Ecclesiastical or Religious Life; It is also true, that it requires not so high a Perfection: And if there be any Advan­tage above those two States, it is, that not obliging to such strict things, it leaves a greater facility for Salvation, when there occur not other Obstacles besides. As for the Temporal Advantages, I place them not here to be consider'd, because we look upon this State here only in reference to Salvation. Moreover, the Pleasures and Contentments that are found therein, are not comparable to the Troubles and Ad­versities with which it is replenish'd, ac­cording to that Expression of S. Paul, who says, that Afflictions are inevitable to Mar­ry'd Persons, Tribulationes carnis habebunt hujusmodi.

Fourthly, The Dangers of this State are great in number, and they are by so much greater, as they are not discover'd, [Page 473]nor often perceiv'd by those who are en­viron'd with them.

The First springs from the excessive and unreasonable Love that is frequently found between Marry'd Persons, which is the cause of a vast number of Sins they com­mit by a criminal Complacence, which makes them fear more to displease their Consort than offend God, and draw upon them his Displeasure and Indignation.

The Second Danger arises from a Cause quite contrary to the former, which is an Aversion they sometimes have for one an­other, proceeding from the contrariety of Humors, Jealousies, or other like Causes. An Aversion which draws after it a conti­nual train of Sins, and an abyss of Mise­ries.

The Third Danger comes from the ir­regular Love they have for their Children, which is also an unexhaustible Source of Sins to Parents, when thro' that foolish Love they apply all their Care for the Temporal Advantages of their Children, as Health, Beauty, good Behavior, to pro­mote them in the World, to heap up Riches for them, which will only serve to destroy them, to procure great Employ­ments for them, and in the mean time neg­lect their Education, their Correction, their Amendment, their good Life, and their Eternal Salvation.

The Fourth Danger is that of Loving the World too much, and engaging them­selves too deeply in the Affection of the [Page 474]Goods and Pleasures of this Life: An Af­fection which makes them lose the tast and sense of real Goods, which are those of Grace and Eternal Salvation. This made S. Paul say,Qui cum uxore est, so­licitus est quae sunt mundi, quomodo pla­ceat uxori, & divisus est. 1 Cor. 7. That he who is Mar­ry'd is perplex'd with the Affairs of the World, and his Spirit is divided between God and the World. All these Dangers are greater than can be exprest, and Marry'd Persons have need of much Grace to avoid them.

The necessary Dispositions for a Marry'd State.

We may say with truth, that the great­est part of the Miseries which happen in a Marry'd Life, springs from the bad Dis­positions they bring with them, and parti­cularly the following.

The First is, the bad Life of young Peo­ple in their Youth, and chiefly after they have finish'd their Studies, until the time of their Marriage: For if, as the Wise­man says, God will give a happy Marriage to those who have liv'd piously during their Youth, it follows manifestly, that he frequently punisheth the Sins of Youth by an unfortunate Marriage, as we daily see.

The Second Fault is, the bad Intention of those who enter into the State of Mar­riage; who propose to themselves no o­ther End in that State than Pleasure, and the Contents they expect to find therein, [Page 475]and which they conceive to be quite dif­ferent from what in effect they are.

The Third is that which is committed in the choice of the Person they have a mind to Espouse: A Choice which is ordi­narily made without consulting God, with­out any knowledge of the Disposition, Manners, or Humor of the Person with whom they are to be Engag'd for their whole Life, and without any other Consi­deration than that of Interest, or frequent­ly by an indiscreet and ill-grounded Love. This is the Complaint of S. Jerom, who says it often happens, that there is noPlerisque nulla est uxo­ris electio, sed qualis ob­venerit ha­benda, si fa­tua, si ambitiosa, quodcunque vitii est, post nu-ptias discimus. Choice made in Marriages, and that the Faults of the Women are not known till after they are Espoused.

The Fourth Cause springs from the bad Disposition they bring to the Sacrament of Matrimony,Filii sancto­rum sumus, & non postumus ita conjungi sicut Gentes quae ignorant Deum. Tob. 8. which they often receive in a wicked State; and from all the Disor­ders that are committed in the Celebration of the Nuptials, as well by the Marry'd as by those who are invited: For, how can God give his Benediction to a Marriage wherein the Parties bring a Heart full of lewd Thoughts, and unchast Desires; where they make Expences of Garments and Feasts, which offend Christian Mode­sty, and frequently exceed their State and Ability, and where all things pass in a li­cencious freedom of saying and doing any thing? So that these Nuptials are rather [Page 476]the Triumph of impure Love, and a Feast of the Devil, than a Marriage of Christi­ans, which ought to be consecrated to Mo­desty, and sanctifi'd by the Presence of Jesus Christ.

These are the the most ordinary Cau­ses of bad Marriages, and of all the Mise­ries and Misfortunes which arise from thence. From whence it follows, that the first Means to succeed well in so great and important an Enterprise, is carefully to a­void all these so dreadful Causes.

To perform this with success, this is what you shall do. You must be convinc'd of three Truths, which are certain and undoubted Maxims in this matter.

The First is, That the greatest Happi­ness that can befall him who embraces a Marry'd Life, is to succeed well in the choice of the Person he would Espouse; as on the contrary, there is no greater Misfortune than to prosper ill in this Oc­casion. The Second is, That this good success can only come from God. And the Third, That God doth not ordinarily shew this Favor but to those who have liv'd well, or have done Penance, and have not fall'n into the Faults we have pointed at.

These three Truths are express'd by the Holy Ghost himself; he teaches the First, when he says by the Mouth of the Wise­man,Qui invenit mulierem bo­nam, invenit bonum, & hau­riet salutem à domino. Prov. 18. Mulieris bonae beatus vir. Eccl. 26. That he who hath found a good Wife, hath found a great Blessing; for a good Wife makes her Husband happy; That it is a Blessing which surpasses all Blessings; That [Page 477] there is nothing which can be compar'd to a vertuous Wife. And on the contrary he saith, ThatQui tenet mulierem ne­quam quasi qui apprehen­dit scorpio­nem. he who hath met with a wicked Wife, is like him who hath taken up a Scorpion in his Hand; And thatCommorari leoni & dra­coni placebit quam habita­re cum mulie­re nequam. Eccl. 25. the Company of a Lion or Serpent is more supportable than that of a bad Wife. The Second Truth is express'd by these excellent Words, ThatDatum Dei est mulier sen­sata & tacita, non est immu­tatio erudi­tae animae. Eccl. 26. a prudent and discreet Wife is the Gift of God, to which there is nothing comparable. And in the Proverbs, ThatDomus & divitiae dantur à parentibus, à Domino autem proprie uxor prudens. Prov. 19. Parents may well give a House and Riches to their Children, but it ap­pertains only to God to give a discreet Wife. The Third Truth is a consequence of the Second; for if God gives this great Bles­sing, it follows also, that a Man must merit it from him, as he himself hath declar'd by the same Wiseman, who says,f A Man is happy when he finds a good Wife, and that it is the Portion of those who fear God; and that God gives it to Man in recompence of his good Actions.

And the Angel Raphael says to the Fa­ther of young Sara, that his Daughter was reserv'd for young Toby, because he fear'd God, and that the others had been unwor­thy of her by reason of their Sins. Huic ti­menti Deum debetur conjux filia tua, propte­rea alius non potuit habere eam.

The Second thing you shall have to do when you shall be fully convinc'd of these [Page 478]Truths, is to concern your self to avoid the four Faults we mention'd, which are the most ordinary Causes of bad Marria­ges, and by avoiding them to practise the contrary Actions, which are the necessary Dispositions for Marriage.

First then, Live well during your Youth. Be Chast, and let not the love of Pleasures take possession of your Heart. Follow not the Torrent of the bad Example of those of your Age, who gape after nothing but Pleasures. Be afraid, lest God punish you by the same way by which you shall have sinn'd, and that for the Pleasures you shall have taken during your Youth, which are soon past, he send you the anguish and trou­ble of a misfortunate Marriage, which will continue all your Life.

Secondly, When you shall be at the time of thinking of Marriage, be careful to look upon it with a chast and pure Eye, and have nothing but a holy Intention, which seeks not Pleasure and Delight in so pious a thing, but the vertuous End which a Christian ought to propose to himself. The Angel Raphael hath declar'd it in a word to young Toby; Accipies vir­ginem cum ti­more Domini, amore filio­rum magis quam libidine ductus. Tob. 6. You shall Marry in the Fear of God, with an intention of having Children, and not thro' a love of Pleasures. Call to mind the terrible Example of the seven Husbands of young Sara, who were all stifled by the Devil on the Day of their Nuptials, and learn from thence the Cause which the same Angel told to Toby; Audi me & ostendam tibi qui sunt qui­bus praevale­re potest dae­monium. Hi namque qui conjugium ita suscipi­unt, ut Deum à se & à sua mente excludant, & suae libidini ita vacent sicut equus & mulus quibus non est intellectus, habet potestatem Daemonium super eos. Ibid. Give ear to me, says he to him, and I shall [Page 479]tell you who those are, over whom the Devil hath power: For those who enter into Mar­riage, not having God with them, or thinking on him, and who only seek wanton Pleasures as Beasts which have no Reason, are they over whom the Devil hath power.

Imprint these words deeply in your Mind, and know, that if the Devil only kill'd those immediately who abus'd the Sanctity of Marriage, he wants not other Means to exercise over them the power God hath given him, whereof he discovers but too many Effects by all the Miseries with which he infests Marriage. They who would not fall into them, ought to a­void the Cause, and have nothing but a chast Love in their Heart, so that they may truly say to God those excellent words of young Toby, Et nunc, Do­mine, tu scis quia non lu­xuriae causa accipio soro­rem meam conjugem, sed sola posteritatis dilectione, in qua benedicatur no­men tuum in saecula saeculorum. Tob. 8. Lord, thou knowest that it is not the love of Pleasures which makes me take this Wife, but the desire of a holy Poste­rity, which may bless thy Name for ever.

Thirdly, When you shall have a good Intention, employ the convenient Means to deliberate well on so important an Af­fair. The First, and most necessary, is to consult God by Prayer, since a good Mar­riage is the Gift of God, and one of his [Page 480]greatest Favors for those who embrace that State, as we have shewn you. More­over, there being nothing more difficult than to know well the Disposition and Humor of the Person, the Divine Assistance is most particularly necessary, that you may not be deceiv'd therein, and this As­sistance ought to be demanded; to Prayer must be added all human and vertuous Means to understand well the Disposition of the Person, that you may not be engag'd in a bad Subject; and know before you Love.

Fourthly, When you shall be at the point of seeing the accomplishment of this great Affair, remember to avoid the con­siderable Faults which we have pointed at above, and are usually committed at the Celebration of Marriage. And First, be­cause it is a Sacrament, which ought to be receiv'd in the State of Grace, you must dispose your self for it by Confession and Communion. 'Tis true, 'tis ordinarily done, but it is also true, that it is frequent­ly perform'd so badly, that there is no Con­fession in ones whole Life that is worse made; for it is often without Preparati­on, and with a Mind full of Distractions, which thinks of nothing less than of God, and the Affairs of Salvation, but is intent upon the Excess, Vanity, and Pomps of the World: Not to speak of those who Con­fess in haste, without Examen, without Contrition, without having thought of the amendment of their Life, which makes [Page 481]them, commit one Sacrilege in Confession, and another in receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony. Not to speak also of those, who having Confess'd themselves well, re­lapse into Sin before Matrimony, by De­sires or immodest Actions. There is no need to tell you much these Confessions may draw Misfortunes upon Marriages: For besides that it makes them lose all the Graces which the Sacrament confers on Marry'd Persons, to acquit themselves of the Obligations of their State, and that for want of these Graces they fall into a vast number of Sins, they draw upon them also the Malediction of God, who sees him­self offended by a Sacrilege at the time when they have most need of his Grace. Avoid this so important and dreadful a Fault, when that time is come. Content not your self with an ordinary Confession. Take time to think seriously of your Sal­vation, by retiring privately for some Days, or for some Hours in many Days; and in that Retirement Pray to God, de­mand his Grace, implore his Mercy, exa­min well your Conscience to Confess all your Sins, propose to your self to live pi­ously for the future, and to acquit your self of all the Obligations of your Marri­age; and to perform the better all these things, make choice of a discreet Con­fessor, of whom you may receive all the Advices necessary for you. Read some Books which may instruct you in the Holi­ness of Matrimony, and in its Obligations. [Page 482]I advise you to read the History of Toby in the Sacred Scripture, you will there find Rules, and the Model of a truly holy Mar­riage, with the Blessings which crown'd it.

In fine, In the Celebration of the Nu­ptials be mindful to avoid the Excess in Clothes and Feasts, and all Expences which shall be only for Vanity, and instead of those Expences, which are only done to please Men, give some considerable Alms to the Poor, which will attract the Divine Benediction upon you, as it is said to Toby, Cumque dixissent a­men, accesse­runt ad con­vivium: sed & cum timore Domini nuptiarum convivium exer­cebant. Tob. 9. That after the Nuptial Benediction they made the Wedding Feast, but in the sight and fear of God.

Be careful that all things be manag'd with Vertue and Modesty, so that God be no wise offended. When you Invite your Relations and Friends, remember to Invite Jesus Christ thither; that is, beseech him that he will be present by his Grace, and give his Blessing to it, as he did to the Wedding of Cana. Forget not also to In­vite thither his holy Mother: It was she who had a care to supply what was want­ing in those Nuptials, and who beseech'd her Son to have compassion on them, and by that Prayer obtain'd that great Mira­cle of the change of Water into Wine: She will perform the same in respect of you, if you Pray to her as you ought. For, [Page 483]asIpsa, dico vobis, si pie à vobis pulsata suerit, non deerit necessi­tati nostrae quoniam mi­sericors est & mater miseri­cordiae, nam si compassa est verecun­diae illorum à quibus suerit invitata, mul­to magis compatietur nobis si pie fuerit invocata. S. Bern. de Nuptiis. S. Bernard says, if she hath had com­passion on the Temporal Necessities of those who had Invited her, there is no doubt but she will be the same to you for your Spiritual Necessities: She will obtain by her Intercession what is ordinarily wanting in Nuptials; not a Material Wine, but the Spiritual Wine of the Love of God, of a good Intention, of a Conjugal Chastity, of a solid and persevering Ver­tue, and all the necessary Favors to acquit your self of the Obligation of your State.

The Conclusion of the foregoing Chapter.

In fine, dear Theotime, when you shall be once engag'd in a worldly Life, and in the State of Matrimony, propose to your self to live therein in such a manner, that your State be not a cause of your Damnation, but a certain Means of your Salvation. It was on this Consideration that you made choice of it, and God hath given it you on­ly for this End. Labor therefore to follow the Intention of God, and to put in Exe­cution that which you your self have un­dertaken. For this reason I have above pointed at the Obligations of your State, and the Dangers with which it abounds, that you may avoid these, and have a care to discharge your self of the other.

These Obligations may be reduc'd to [Page 484]four Things, which Marry'd People ow to four Persons, to God, their Consort, their Children, and themselves. They ow to God a holy Life, and well regulated in the Path of his Commandments; To their Wife, an inviolable Fidelity; To their Children, the care of Educating them in the Fear of God; And to themselves, the care of their Salvation, by preferring it before all Temporal Blessings. Propose to your self these four Obligations, as the indispensible Rules which you ought al­ways to have before your Eyes, to acquit your self faithfully of them.

As for the Dangers, use all your Endea­vors absolutely to avoid them: We have above reduc'd them to four, which are the most ordinary Sources of all, both Tem­poral and Spiritual Miseries, which hap­pen to Marry'd Persons.

You will prevent the First and Third, by placing frequently before your Eyes that Expression of Jesus Christ, Qui amat patrem aut matrem plus quam me, non est me dignus. Mat. 10. He who loves his Father or Mother more than me, is not worthy of me. If you love God as you ought, you will love him above all things, that is, more than any thing that is most dear to you in the World. He who loves him not in this manner, shall never be wor­thy to possess him in his Eternal Happi­ness. The Wise and Children must be lov'd next to God, according to God, and for God.

The Second Danger which springs from the Aversion which sometimes arises be­tween [Page 485]Marry'd Persons, is a Mischief which is easilier prevented than cur'd. To per­form both the one and the other, there is no better Means than frequently to represent unto your self that excellent Admonition S. Paul gives to Men,Viri diligi­te uxores ve­stras sicur & Christus dile­xit Ecclesiam, & seipsum tradidit pro ea ut sanctui­caret eam. Ephes. 5. To love their Wives as Jesus Christ lov'd the Church his Spouse, for whom he gave himself, that he might san­ctifie her. If you will consider well this Ex­ample, you will find therein a perfect Model of the true Love Marry'd Persons ought to bear to their Wives, which ought to be a generous Love, which raises them above their Imperfections, to support them with Patience, and to cure them by the convenient Means which Prudence and Charity shall suggest to them, if they have a real desire to save themselves with them.

And in fine, You shall avoid the Fourth Danger, which comes frome the Love of the World, by this great Advertisement which the same Apostle gives to Marry'd Persons, which they ought always to re­volve in their Mind.Hoc itaque dico fratres, tempus breve est, reliqumn est ut & qui habent uxo­res tanquam non habentes sint, & qui flent tanquam non flentes, & qui gau­dent tanquam non gauden­tes & qui e­munt tan­quam non pos­sidentes, & qui utuntur, hoc mundo tan­quam non u­tantur, Prae­terit enim fi­gura hujus mundi. 1 Cor. 7.29. This therefore I say, Brethren, the time is short, it remains, that they also who have Wives be as tho' they had not, and they that weep as tho' they wept not, and they that rejoyce as tho' they rejoyced not, and they that buy as tho' they possessed not, and they that use the World as tho' they us'd it not; for the sigure of this World passeth a­way. The meaning is, That this Life be­ing short, we must make use of these Goods with much moderation, and as by the by, not fixing our Affection upon them; [Page 486]And that the Goods of this Life having more of appearance than solidity, it is a great folly to love them to the prejudice of those of the other Life, which are real Goods; and for these imaginary and pe­rishable Riches, to put ones self in danger of losing Eternal Blessings which shall ne­ver end, and by losing them, draw upon ones self an Eternity of Miseries.

Of a Single Life.

I Speak not here of the Single Life of Priests and Religious, but of the State of Continence, which Persons of both Sexes sometimes observe in the World; which may happen two ways, by Neces­sity or by Election. By Necessity, when for some Cause which depends not on us, as Poverty, Infirmity, or some other invin­cible Impediment, a Man cannot attain to a good Marriage. By Election, when by deliberate Purpose one renounces the State of Matrimony, to live in a perpetual Con­tinence.

They who chance to be oblig'd to Con­tinence by the former Way, have need of much Vertue, to save themselves in a State wherein they remain against their Will.

1. The first thing to be done, is strong­ly to resist the Vexation their Condition obliges them to. They ought to consider, that it is God who by his Will hath plac'd [Page 487]them in that State; that he hath done it for good Reasons, and chiefly for their Salvation: From whence it follows, that he will not fail to bestow on them, all the Graces necessary to observe Continence, and live holily in their Condition. Now after all, they have this Advantage, which is found in none of the other States, to be fully assur'd that their Vocation comes from God, and by consequence nothing will be wanting on his part, to effect their Salvation in the State wherein God hath plac'd them.

2. Being convinc'd of these Truths, they must perform a Second thing, which is, as it is ordinarily said, make a Vertue of Necessity, by doing thro' a voluntary acceptance of their State, what they would have done by choosing it freely, if they had had their Wish; That is to say, they must embrace their Condition as coming from the Hand of God, and consecrate to him their Chastity, as a Present he re­quires of them, which may be as pleasing to him as if they had offer'd it by their express and proper Motion.

3. After they have thus voluntarily ac­cepted the Condition God hath plac'd them in, they must propose to live holily therein, and use the necessary Means for that End, which are the same we are a­bout to give to them who make choice of it by their own proper Will.

I come now to those who voluntarily prefer the State of Continence before that [Page 488]of Marriage, and I say they have need of many Advertisements, which I beseech you, Theotime, to weigh well if you be of that number.

The First is, to Examin well the Mo­tive which induces you to embrace this Choice, and the Life you would lead in that Condition: For, if you only make choice of the State of Continence to avoid the Troubles and Perplexity of Marriage, and if you would live in that Condition with all the liberty a Man gives himself in Marriage, to take therein all your Plea­sures, to converse with Women, and be as much in Divertisements and worldly Company as if you were Marry'd, it is cer­tain your Choice is worth nothing; it is a Snare the Devil lays for you, to make you fall into an infinite number of Sins a­gainst Chastity, from which it is impos­sible to preserve your self amidst Pleasures, and so many Dangers and Occasions. If you will choose well the State of Conti­nence, and according to God, you must embrace it by a Motive of Piety, that is, to please God more in that State, and to effect your Salvation better. This is the sole and only Intention you ought to have in choosing so perfect a State as that, and they who have it not cannot, but have em­brac'd it on an ill Account, and with danger of concluding miserably therein. Where­fore, Theotime, Examin seriously that which you have, be careful of being deceiv'd in it; be solicitous to confer with some wise and pious Person about it.

Secondly, When you shall be assur'd of your Intention, you must come to the Means to acquit your self well of that State, whereof the first is to know per­fectly the Greatness of it, the Advantages, and the Dangers.

As for the Greatness, I shall not insist here to Discourse of what the Fathers have said of the State of Continence, be­cause that would be endless; it suffices to say, that this State surpasses much that of Marriage; And altho' that be good and holy, as well by its Institution, which comes from God, as for other Reasons we have spoken of above, the State of Conti­nence is yet better, and much more holy.

It surpasses that of Marriage, as a Fa­ther of the Church says,Utriusque rei congrua discretione momenta pen­santes tantum dicimus à san­ctis nuptiis sanctam virginitatem merito potiore distare, quantum distant à bonis meliora, ab humilibus celsa, à terrenis coelestia, à beatis beatiora à sanctis sanctiora. S. Fulg. lib. de Virgin. as much as bet­ter things surpass less good; as things above, those which are below, as much as Celestial surpass Terrestrial, the more happy and holy those which have less Sanctity and Holiness.

The Advantages of this State are great,Qui fine uxore est soli­citus est quae Domini sunt, quomodo pla­ceat Deo, & mulier in­nupta & vir­go cogitat quae Domini sunt, ut sit sancta corpore & spiritu. 1 Cor. 7. St. Paul hath compris'd them in few words, when he said, That they who were unmarry'd had their Minds more free and disengag'd from worldly Affairs, have better Means to think upon God, to please him, and to sanctific themselves both in Body and Mind.

The Obligations of the same State are no less than its Advantages. It obligeth to two great Vertues, the practice of which are very difficult, Chastity and Hu­mility. Chastity doth not only oblige to abstain from the Pleasures which Matri­mony may render lawful, but also to pre­serve an absolute, entire, and perfect Pu­rity of Mind and Body, and to fly afar off from whatsoever may in the least wound Modesty in Thought, Word, or Deed. And Humility obliges them to preserve themselves carefully from falling into Va­nity, or having any good Opinion or Pre­sumption of themselves for the illustrious Vertue of Virginal Chastity. These two Vertues ought to be inseparable, and they have so great a connection one with ano­ther, that S. Fulgentius calls them by the same Name,Propter quod non est Chri­sti virginibus negligentius intuendum, quantum cor­dis virginitas carnis virgi­nitati prae­ponderet: haec enim si à fidelibus conjugatis ac viduis in fide per dilectionem operatur, etiam sine virginitate corporea, in hac vita fuerit custodita in futuro, nec carnis virginita­te privabitur, & regni coelestis beatitudine perfruetur. Corpo­ralis vero virginitas, etiam Deo dicata, si virginitatem non serva­verit cordis, nihil proderit in corpore custodita, si spiritalis casti­tas fuerit in mente corrupta. S. Fulgen. de Virginitate. saying, That Humility is the Virginity of the Mind; and that it is so necessary for that of the Body, that Cor­poral Chastity advantages nothing with­out that of the Mind, it being certain, that Marry'd Persons shall be Sav'd without observing Corporal Virginity, and that Virgins shall not without the Spiritual, which is Humility.

From these two great Obligations it is easie to judge of the Dangers of that State; they are as great as these two Vertues are difficult to practise, and to joyn together; and the Enemy of our Salvation em­ploys all his Endeavors against Virgins, to make them lose both the one and the o­ther. This is also the Judgment of that great Saint, who says,Utramque Diabolus per­sequitur, u­tramque cal­lidis consiliis insectatur, sed virginitatem carnis per ho­minem niti­tur praeripe­re, cordis vir­ginitatem per seipsum co­natur auferre: nam plerum­que ad hoc carnis virgi­nitatem quae exterior est, non impug­nat ut illius quae potior est fundamenta suffodiat, &c. Et cum certamini manifesto cedit, ad hoc se victum demonstrat, ut vincat, &c. Evidentibus quippe vitiis provocat dum virginitatem carnis im pugnat: in quibus si palam superetur, illico superbiam perniciosissime jaculatur, & vitiorum author in eo quod vincere non potest vitiis suis, vincit virtutibus alienis. S. Fulgent. ibid. That the Devil assaults strongly these two Vertues in Vir­gins of both Sexes, and when he cannot carry away the first by Temptations, he endeavors to ravish the second by Illusi­ons. He also adds, That sometimes he at­tacks not so strongly the Chastity of the Body, that he may more easily prevail o­ver that of the Mind, which is more con­siderable; That he lets himself be over­come in the Temptations of the Flesh, that by this Victory he may instill Pride into the Mind of him who hath over­come, and that not being able to conquer Virgins by open-fac'd Vice, which he in­spires into them, he gains them by sins which he draws from their own Vertue.

It behoveth you therefore, Theotime, to be admonish'd of these Dangers, that they may not divert you from embracing the [Page 492]State of Continence, if you be inclin'd thereunto by a good Motive, such as we have spoken of; for if it be true, that the Persecution against Virgins is great, it is yet more true, that the Grace of God is stronger to defend and preserve them; and that God by his Goodness fails not to assist with his powerful Favors, those who embrace so difficult a State, to Serve him more perfectly, and who seek all the ne­cessary Means to discharge themselves well, whereof the first is that which we have spoken of, that is, to know well the Greatness, the Obligations and the Dan­gers of that State.

The other Means which he must pra­ctise after this, are Prayer, and Meditati­on upon holy things, Labor, and all those others we have shewn above in Part 3. Chap. 8. to conserve Chastity; and also those we have given to conserve Humility, in Part 4. Chap. 22.

Most important Advices for young Persons, who begin to enter into the World.

THE Sacred Scripture in the Second Book of Machabees, Read these Ad­vices atten­tively. Chap. 2. recounts, that after the taking of the City of Jerusa­lem by Nabuchadonosor, when the Jews were upon the point of being sent to Babylon, the Prophet Jeremy took a care to furnish them [Page 493]with a great number of good Admonitions against the Occasions they should be ex­pos'd unto, of departing from God, and being utterly destroy'd in that Pagan Country.Et dedit il­lis legem ne oblivisceren­tur praecepta Domini, & ut non exerra­rent menti­bus videntes simulacra ar­gentea & au­rea & ornamenta eorum, & alia hujusmodi, dicens, hortabatur ne legem amoverent à corde suo. 2 Machab. 2. He gave them the Law, that is, the Scripture, that they might not forget the Commandments of God, nor fall into Error, seeing the Idols of Gold and Silver, with all their Ornaments. And in telling them many such like things, he exhorted them that they should never let the Law of God be remov'd from their Hearts.

What that holy Prophet did in that Oc­casion concerning the Jews, I ought to per­form here is respect of you, dear Theotime, and with as much necessity. Having con­ducted you even to the end of Youth, which ordinarily is spent in Studies, or o­ther Employments convenient for that Age; and considering you in this time a­bout to enter into some State of Life, I am oblig'd to admonish you of many things at that Entrance, and to arm you with good Advertisements against the Dangers you will find in the World, where you will meet with no less Hazards than the Jews did in the Captivity of Babylon: It is a Place where you will have many Occasions of forgetting God, and of runing your self. For this reason I exhort you with the Prophet to have a care of your self, that the Law of God may never be taken [Page 494]out of your Heart. For this end I have prepar'd for you the following Advices which I beseech you to read with much attention, as most important for your Salvation.

That the time of issuing out of Youth, and entring into the World, is the most dange­rous of all the Life, and many are ship­wreckt therein.

This is the first Advertisement I give you, and which I wish may be deeply en­graven in the Minds of all young People, to make them very much stand in fear of so slippery a Step, and so dangerous a Place for their Age, where many run mis­fortunately into Ruin.

It is there where the Devil waits for them, and where he hopes his Attempts will not be vain and unprofitable: He finds then all the possible Advantages to with­draw them from Vertue, if before they have been bred up therein, or engage them more deeply in Vice; The Liberty they begin to enjoy, the Idleness whereinto they easily fall at that time, the greater Occa­sions they have of committing III, the easier Means they have to give themselves to Mer­riment and take their Pleasures, the new Companies which they frequent, where they soon learn the Spirit of the World, Vanity, Pride, love of Pleasures, the Ma­xims of the World, the Imitation of the Wicked, and the entire corruption of [Page 495]Manners; the Sentiments of Vertue which they had learnt in their Youth, are easily dislipated; those seem now fit only for Chil­dren, they think they must have a more re­fin'd and elevated Spirit, they contemn what they esteem'd before, the most pious Resolutions appear to them the Effects of Simplicity; and from thence springs the ruin of Vertue, and the entire corruption of their Manners, which follows that of the Mind.

This Truth is very manifest, Experi­ence makes it daily appear, to the great regret of those whom the Salvation of Youth moves never so little.

S. Augustin had made trial of this to his great Damage, as he himself deplores it in his Confessions, where he says, That Do­mestick Affairs, having made him leave off his StudiesSed ubi sex­to illo decimo anno interpo­sito otio, ex necessitate do­mestica feria­tus ab omni schola, cum parentibus esse coepi, excesserunt caput meum vepres libidinum, & nulla erat eradicans manus. S. Aug. lib. 2. Confess. cap. 3. at the Age of Sixteen, and re­turn to his Fathers House, Vices and wan­ton Pleasures began, as he himself says, to grow above his Head, as Briers in a neg­lected Ground, and to be multiply'd so much more as there was no discreet Hand to weed them out.

And I would to God he had not had so many Companions in his Misfortune, but the multitude of them is innumerable, par­ticularly amongst young People, who have any Advantage above others in their Con­dition or Fortune.

There are few found who imitate the holy Man Toby, whom all young Persons ought to take for their Example and Mo­del in that time; concerning whom the Scripture observes so expresly, and on pur­pose,Cumque es­set junior om­nibus in tribu Nephthali, ni­hil tamen pue­rile gessit in opere. Deni­que cum irent omnes ad vi­tulos aureos quos Jerobo­am fecerat, hic solus fugi­ebat consor­tia omnium & pergebat in Jerusalem ad Templum Domini, & ibi adorabat Dominum Deum Israel. Tob. 1. That in his Youth he acted nothing Childish; and that all his Fellow-Citizens go­ing to adore the Idols, he withdrew himself from their Company, and went alone to Jeru­salem to adore the true God, not permitting himself to be corrupted by the Example of others. O what an excellent Pattern is this for young People, who enter into the World, and which they ought frequently to place before their Eyes, as being pro­pos'd by the Holy Ghost for that intent.

Altho' there are few who imitate this Example, yet there are some; God hath always his Servants, he reserves some for himself, who bend not their Knees before Baal, who permit not themselves to be corrupted by the Contagion of the World. To the end, Theotime, you may be of that number, do I give you this so necessary, and little known Admonition, and conti­nue the following Advices.

That the chief care of young Men, who enter into the World, ought to be to conserve the Sentiments and Practices of Piety which they have observ'd in their Youth.

The reason of this Advice is, because the first source of the Disorder of young Persons in that time, spring from the change of the Sentiments they have con­cerning Piety, as we have said, and aban­doning the Practices they observ'd before, as ordinary Prayer, reading pious Books, frequenting the Sacraments, Conversation with vertuous Persons, and chiefly Confe­rence with a discreet Confessor. Where­fore I tell you, Theotime, that the prime care you ought to have at that time, is to conserve the Sentiments of Vertue which you have receiv'd, and the practice of those you have been instructed in.

As for the Sentiments, know that Vertue is always one and the same, and in whatso­ever Age or Occasion you be in, you are still oblig'd to consecrate your self to God, to obey and serve him faithfully.

As for the Practices remember, that if you be oblig'd to Vertue, you are also ob­lig'd in like manner to all the necessary Means to acquire and conserve it; such are the Practices we have spoken of above. Wherefore I advise you, as a thing most important for your Salvation, not to desist [Page 498]from them; if you leave them off, you ruin your self in Vice. Be diligent in Praying, in Reading good Books, in frequenting the Sacraments, in Conversing with vertuous Persons, and chiefly in discovering your Conscience to a discreet Ghostly Father, whether to him who directed you before, if you can have him, for that is always best, or to another. It is in this that all young People are defective at that time. From the time they begin to know them­selves, they will not discover themselves to any Person; they fly from those who may keep them in the good Path, or set them right when they are gone astray, which is the cause why they remove themselves so so far from them, and often never, or too late return to them.

Act not in this manner, Theotime, call to mind that St. Augustin attributes to this Cause the Disorder he fell into at the end of his Studies, because he had no one to take care to root out the Vices which then grew in his Soul. Forget not also what the Scripture recounts of King Joas, That he was vertuous as long as he was in­structed by the High Priest Joiada, Fecit Joas rectum coram Domino cun­ctis diebus quibus docuit cum Joiada sacerdos. 4 Reg. 3. he had no sooner lost the Conduct of that holy Man, but he became wicked and was mis­fortunately ruin'd.