Imatges de pÓgina
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returned to the worst of vices, and not only forfaken the morals of Christianity, but apoitatiled from the very religion? So that there is no fecurity that we shall persevere, whilst we breathe the corrupt air of this world.

If we begin betimes to serve God with fervour, we may hope, with confidence, God will perfetz the good work in us until the day of Jesus Christ, and favour us with the grace of perseverance: for an early virtue has this happy advanta e, that it finds us disengaged from ill habits, and consequently may be planted, and increase, without great oppolition. Our passions are young, and may be eaÎily tamed, and brought into subjection: besides, our fidelity to the first graces moves God to a greater liberality; and if we continue in this happy course, virtue pafies into a habit, and then we may reasonably conclude God will perfect it in us until the day of Jesus Christ.

But if we pass our youth in disorders, without any practice or sense of religion, if we live not like Christians, can we expect with any reason to die saints ? How many, my God, would enter into thy secrets, and know their destiny ? Let us consult our lives, our actions, our thoughts : all our conduct furnishes us motives to satisfy our curiosity. Christ has told us, he will come in glory, to render to every one according to his works; they therefore, that do evil, have all reason to fear punishment; those, that do good, to expect a reward. Oh! what have I not reason to fear, who have squared my life by the wild maxims of the world? But, O God, by a victorious grace, and an extraordinary mercy, render false this fad presage of my unfortunate destiny; favour me with this grace, I conjure thy goodness; I promise for the future a life wholly Christian, a prognostick of my perseverance.


For God is my record, how greatly I long after gou all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. St. Paul gives us here a rule, how to love creatures; in the bowels of Jesus Chrift: We must love them in God, and for his fake; all other motives are unacceptable to him, and below the duty of a Christian. God commands parents to love their children ; but if this love, this tenderness, rises no higher than to a natural instinct, they fulfil not the law, and will receive no reward in heaven: it is a mere natural act ; the Master of nature has imprinted this inclination in the most cruel beasts; a Chriftian must love them in the bowels of Jesus Christ; for his fake, because he has imposed the command.

This love must be subordinate to that we owe God; that is, we must never transgress his precepts, to raise a child's fortune, nor even to save his life : God never commanded parents to love their children at the expence of their own souls, and of his honour ; nay, he says expresly, he who loveth father or mother more than me, I may add, or child, is not worthy of me.

No, no, my God! I have loved children and relations hitherto like a Pagan, not like a Christian ; and what have I gained, but a small fatisfaction here, without any hope of a reward hereafter ? I will for the future raise my thoughts higher, and love every one only in thee, and for thee.


GOSPEL of St. Matth. Chap. xxii. Verse

15. Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel bow they might entangle him in his talk.

16. And they sent out unto him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither careft thou for any man : for thou regardeft not the person of men.

17. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cesar, or not?

18. But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, je hypocrites ?

19. Shew me the tribute-money. And they brought unto him a penny.

20. And be faith unto them, Whose is this image and super

scription ? 21. They say unto him, Cesar's. Then faith be unto them, Render therefore unto Cesar, the things which are Cefar's ; and unto God, the things that are God's.

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UR blessed Saviour, from the beginning of

this chapter, explained to the Pharisees the great mysteries of his religion, with a zeal and charity able to move the most obdurate. But what fruit did they reap from his divine instructions ? They entered into a conspiracy against him, not only to entrap him in his words, but, if possible, to accuse him of treason. O! how often do Christians play the Pharisee? How often, my God, do they leave the church, where they have heard explained the most important truths of the gospel, to satisfy a passion, to form or execute a criminal project ? This is to conspire against thee, my Saviour, to vilify thy person, to trample on thy facred blood, and once more, in thy apostle's language, to nail thee to a cross : and this thou dost suffer, not from thy enemies the Pharisees, who denied thy Divinity, but from thy friends ; from those, who are honoured with thy Name, and adore thy Majesty.

The Pharisees send their disciples, together with fome of the court; they cover their malice under the mask of piety, and pretend to learn of him, not to entrap him. They begin their address with the praise of his Person: Master, we know that thou art true, and teachejt the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man ; for thou regardest not the person of inen. Who would not take these hypocrites for saints, these traytors for Christ's disciples? Yet all these praises were only to gain his confidence, to draw from him some questionable expression, and in the end to ruin him.

Our blessed Saviour, who knew the malice of each sin, seems to caution us against no one so much as hypocrisy; he declaims against it in alınost twenty places, with zeal and execration. Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ; says he (Mat. xxiii. 27.) ye are like whited fepulcbers; fair without, but foul within: nothing more composed, more devout, than your exterior ; nothing more wicked, more criminal, than your hearts. The horror our blessed Saviour expresses of this sin shews its enormity; and its effects, its malice.

Under the cover of hypocrisy all vices thrive, and well-meaning people are easily imposed upon. Oh! how hard is it to defend ourselves against an encmy unsuspected ? Pride begins heresies, but hypocrisy gives them vogue, and spreads them. Arius, by his devout exterior, by his humble deportment, drew after him all the devotees of Alexandria, and his letters, full of piety, the bishops of the east : in a word, every herefy took the specious pretext of re

form, form, and spread its infection, by crying out against abuses, by covering its vices under the veilof zeal, piety, mortification, and humility.

O my God! how often have I been guilty of this criminal disfimulation ? How often have I play'd the hypocrite, and deceived, not only my neighbour, but myself also? I have studied more to regulate my exterior, than my heart ; to edify men, than to please thee. Pardon all these defects of candor and sincerity: Father of mercy! you see the heart of man; I hope, by the assistance of thy grace, thou wilt not see in mine hypocrisy or disimulation.

Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cesar, ir not? Their praise of his doctrine, of his piety, of his fincerity, only aimed at a direct answer to this captious question: had he said it was unlawful, they would have accused him of treason against the emperor : had he pronounc'd it lawful, he had drawn upon himself the hatred of the Jews, who look'd upon themselves as a privileged people, and the Roman tribúte as an ufurpation. Our Saviour first shewed, he read their malice, tho' covered under a disguise of piety, and that they desired not instruction, but his ruin. Wby tempt je me, je hypocrites ? He knew whether tribute was lawful, or no ; but he would not return a direct answer, because he would neither exasperate the Jews, nor shock the Ro

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And he would besides teach us, that our zeal must be neither imprudent, nor indiscreet : that we must take care not to draw upon ourselves perfecution without necessity, nor by indiscretion hinder the good we may do by observing the rules of prudence : that we must not expose our neighbour, nor ourselves, to temptations : that we must suffer dif- • grace and perfecution with patience, when we are


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