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Confessors, and Virgins of the Lord, O ye Anchorites and ALL HALLOWS, MAKE YE INTERCESSION FOR US."
Feast of All Hallows, 1842.
THE CONCLUSION. Gentle READER, -As we have said above, so may we now repeat, “ Meum opus, vix unius est horæ ; et si plus, præ amore non sentio." It would have been as easy, as delightful, to have rested a little while longer, to have extended our meditations here, and to have prepared ourselves a little while longer, before passing the threshold. But we must now give place; for other of God's poor have need to sit where we have sat; and refresh themselves, as we hope that we have been refreshed. It is time that we should enter in within the wicket, that we should kneel down devoutly in THE NAVE, and continue there the meditations, which the external beauty of the Spouse has begotten within us. We have yet much to learn ; much to see; much to look at; much to love. Hitherto we have seen but a glimpse; we must
The deep bell in the tower has ceased its solemn chime; we must now enter within the silent and awful pile. May we hope, as we kneel in silence there, that we may say " that it has been good for us to have been here, and to have paused a little while to call in our scattered thoughts in THE PORCH OF THE CHURCH.”
END OF THE PORCH OF THE CHURCH.
THE MANUAL OF THE LITTLE ONES.
(By the B. Thomas a Kempis.)
CHAP. 1.-ON THE CALLING OF THE LITTLE ONES TO CHRIST.
1. “SINITE parvulos venire ad me, talium est enim rem coelorum." (St. Matt. xix. 14.)
“Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me, for the kingdom of heaven is for such.”
Such are the words of Jesu Christ, our sovereign pastor and heavenly teacher, in the school of our God, which he spoke to his disciples and to the multitude, when little children were brought before him by their parents for him to lay his hands on them. And our boły Master, and sweet Lord (according to St. Mark x. 16), embracing them, and laying his hands upon them, blessed them, and said, Amen, I
say to you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter into it.” (Ibid. v. 15.) And again, according to St. Matthew, he said to the adults, unless
be converted, and become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,"
2. () good shepherd, and sweet master, how sweetly dost thou speak, and how truly dost thou teach, and in few words showeth to all men, that the right way of going to the kingdom of God is by the way of humility ?
These holy words console the humble and the poor; rebuke the proud and the rich, but comfort the simple and the innocent. For God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (James iv. 6), now in this present life, and glory in that which is to come.
In all the good then which you do, or speak, or think, do not withdraw from humility, lest you lose all that you do,—for no good works avail unless they be founded in humility, and suffused with the honey of charity, and done with a pure intention for the honour of God. Beware of pride, which is the deep pit of all vices, and the ruin of all virtues. Be thou innocent and guileless as a little child, pure from all malice, and thou wilt be beloved of God and of men, and at peace with thyself.
CHAPTER II.--OF THE DOCTRINE OF JESU AND HIS HUMILITY.
1. “ Discite à me," inquit Jesus, “quia mitis sum, et humilis corde.” (St. Matt. xi. 29.)
“ Learn of me,” saith Jesus, “ because I am meek, and humble of heart." Oh, humility-the virtue of Christ, how dost thou confound the pride of our vanity, who desire to be praised for a little good, and refuse to be blamed for the many evils we have done! O sweet Jesu, who hast borne so many evils for us, who hast done none, and who hast conferred on us innumerable blessings, which we deserved not, nor are worthy to receive! For all that thou hast done for us is of thy grace and boundless mercy, and yet thou still continuest to vouchsafe, every day, by sparing us in our crimes, and by blessing us with many blessings! Thanks be unto thee, O most merciful God, for ever, but woe unto us for our ingratitude, lukewarmness, and pride, notwithstanding all thy benefits and promises !
CHAP. III.-ON THE PURITY AND SUBLIMITY OF THE APOSTLE ST.JOHN. 1. “Ecce puer meus electus, quem elegi.” (Esai. li. 2.) Behold
my beloved servant whom I have chosen." What gave to the blessed Apostle John so clear an intellect, and made him so beloved by our Lord Jesu Christ, that he should understand and write such lofty mysteries of God, far beyond all. the doctors in the world ?
It was his great purity of mind and body, his perfect charity, burning towards God and his neighbour, not in word only and speech, but in deed and in truth. For this he himself testifieth openly in his epistle, when writing of this twofold charity. But if ye cannot rise with St. John the Evangelist to the contemplation of such exalted mysteries of the Holy Trinity, yet be zealous in meditating and following the humility and patience of Christ with the sick Lazarus. And though you may not be able to fly up with St. Paul to the third heavens, yet learn to weep and implore forgiveness with the blessed Mary Magdalene at the feet of JESU.
CHAP. IV. ON THE SANCTITY AND EXCELLENCE OF THE APOSTLE
1. “ Vas electionis mihi est.” (Act. ix. 15.) “ This man is to me a vessel of election.” Who is it made St. Paul so great and exalted in the sight of God?
It was his contempt of the world and all earthly things, his self-denial and mortification of the flesh, and his casting away all temporal honour, and, more than these, his perfect love of God and his neighbour, by serving Christ in this world, for no earthly gain, or self-advantage.
Among all the many revelations made to him by God, what did he teach the most often or impress the most constantly to the faithful at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, or all over the world? It was Jesus Christ, and him crucified for us, for whom he desired to suffer many things, and feared not to die, for the honour and love of his name. He bore about in his body and his heart daily the marks of his passion.
CHAP. V.-ON THE GREAT HUMILITY OF ST. FRANCIS.
1. “ This is he who despised the life of the world." (Ant. Eccl.) “ Hic est qui contempsit vitam mundi.”
What made the humble St. Francis so devout and so beloved of God in this life, and so exalted in glory? Verily it was his profound humility, and because in all the divine blessings and daily exercises he bore about with him the passion of Christ; and with a mind filled with love, mourned over the wounds of his sorrow, meditated thereon most deeply, wept over them most bitterly, and loved most burningly. For great grace is conferred on the humble, and on such as daily cultivate the passion of Christ.
For the truly humble considers not himself as such; neither does he lift himself up for the good he may do; but he esteems himself viler than all others, and truly confesses that he is below all. He looks upon all his own evil, and weeps; but when he sees another's good he rejoiceth thereat, for which he praiseth and blesseth God, praying that He may have mercy upon him, and free him from all his evil.
CHAP. VI.-ON GOOD THOUGHTS AGAINST EVIL.
1. “ Vade retro, Satana.” (St. Matt. xvi. 23.) “ Go behind me, Satan.”
As a soldier of Christ, address these words to all the evil phantoms of the devil ; for thy arms are the holy words and works of Christ.
Wherefore, against the fiery darts of the flesh, call to mind Christ's bitter wounds. Against the weariness of heart let the sweet name of Jesu be ever in thy mouth. Against all wicked suspicions and indignation towards others, think of all the faults thou hast committed from thy first birth till now, and cease to be angry.
Let all thy good be common with others, and done for the praise of God; but impute thy evil to thyself alone, and turn thee to more fervent amendment.
2. When you rest from external labour, forthwith let a psalm or the praise of God be in thy heart and in thy mouth. The heart cannot long rest still, for either it imagineth good or evil; either it turneth to sorrow or joy, like the vane that is moved by the wind.
Wherefore, that evil may not rush in suddenly and stain thee, sow therein holy words, like clean grains, in thy heart, and turning them diligently there, convert them into food. O would that your good words and prayers were as many as thine evil words; that thou reflected and meditated on as much good as thou hast thought on what is wicked and hurtful.
Open thy heart to Christ, and close it to the devil, that thy soul may be in heaven, not on earth. Christ speaketh to thee in every word of God, and in every book written with the finger of the Holy Spirit. For whatsoever you read, or write, or understand of the holy Scriptures, is the consolation of a faithful soul in tribulation, and a remedy against the poison of the devil, and recall the heart of a wandering mind to its God in heaven.
CHAP. VII.-ON THE SHORT DURATION OF EVERYTHING UNDER
1. “ Vanitas omnis homo vivens.” (Ps. xxxviii. 6.)
“ All man living is vanity.” He is to-day, and to-morrow is not to be found.
The rich and the poor perisheth, the young and the old; as the fair perisheth, so does the swarthy; as the learned, so the unlearned.
Great and small, noble and base, lord and servant, superior and subject alike perish.
Honours perish, and reputation passes away; as the scholar so the master, as the clerk so the layman, as the canon so the monk.
The theologian passes away, and so the astronomer, the physician and all that are skilled in any art. Behold, all things perish, but to love God and live justly!
CHAP. VIII.-OF THE DEVOTION OF THE HOLY KING DAVID IN PRAYER.
1. “ Quis enim in omnibus sicut David fidelis." (Ant. Eccl.)
“For who among all was as faithful David,” hastening to the kingdom of the heavenly king? In the day he was a brave soldier, fighting against his enemies, and in the night, a devout monk, praying with sighs and tears for the sins he had committed. But, above all, he poured out his grateful thanks to God, for the innumerable mercies specially vouchsafed to him, and for all others conferred on every creature whom he had wonderfully created and adorned to the glory of his holy name.
And yet, lest pride might creep in for the good he had received, he calls out in his praise : “ Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name