The Following of Christ, Book I, Chapter XI

cover of the ebook 'The Following of Christ'Of acquiring peace and zeal of spiritual progress

1. We might have much peace, if we would not busy ourselves with the sayings and doings of others, and with things which belong not to us.

How can he remain long in peace, who entangles himself with other people’s cares; who seeks occasions abroad, and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected?

Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace.

2. What was the reason why some of the saints were so perfect and contemplative?

Because they made it their study wholly to mortify in themselves all earthly desires; and thus they were enabled, with the whole interior of their hearts, to cleave to God, and freely to attend to themselves.

We are too much taken up with our own passions; and too solicitous about transitory things.

And seldom do we perfectly overcome so much as one vice, nor are we earnestly bent upon our daily progress; and therefore we remain cold and tepid.

3. If we were perfectly dead to ourselves and no ways entangled in our interior: then might we be able to relish things divine, and experience something of heavenly contemplation.

The whole and greatest hindrance is, because we are not free from passions and lusts; nor do we strive to walk in the perfect way of the saints.

And when we meet with any small adversity, we are too quickly dejected, and turn away to seek after human consolation.

4. If we strove like valiant men to stand in the battle; doubtless we should see that our Lord would help us from heaven.

For he is ready to help them that fight and trust in his grace: who furnishes us with occasions of fighting that we may overcome.

If we place our progress in religion in these outward observances only, our devotion will quickly be at an end.

But let us lay the axe to the root, that being purged from passions, we may possess a quiet mind.

5. If every year we rooted out one vice, we should soon become perfect men.

But now we often find it quite otherwise: that we were better and more pure in the beginning of our conversion, than after many years of our profession.

Our fervour and progress ought to be every day greater: but now it is esteemed a great matter if a man can retain some part of his first fervour.

If we could use but a little violence upon ourselves in the beginning, we might afterwards do all things with ease and joy.

It is hard to leave off our old customs: and harder to go against our own will.

But if thou dost not overcome things that are small and light: when wilt thou overcome greater difficulties?

Resist thy inclination in the beginning, and break off the evil habit; lest perhaps by little and little the difficulty increase upon thee.

O! if thou wert sensible how much peace thou shouldst procure to thyself, and joy to others, by behaving thyself well; thou wouldst be more solicitous for thy spiritual progress.