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IN presenting to the public another vol 
ume of Bellarmine s spiritual works, I 
trust that, like the one already published,* 
it will be found not unworthy of the venera 
ble author s reputation. He is not indeed 
equal to many of the great spiritual writers, 
that lived about the time of the Reforma 
tion ; " Controversy" was his chief delight, 
his characteristic. 

But it is well known, that in his old age 
and in the holy calm ot solitude, whither 
he had retired to prepare his soul for death 
he composed several excellent spiritual 
treatises. Among these, the "Art of 
Dying Well," will be found to contain 
many sublime and practical lessons, on the 

* " A Gradual Whereby to Ascend unto God," &o 
(Jones and Dolman London, 1844.) 


most important of all arts. It is written 
with a beautiful simplicity, unction, and 
strength of reasoning, supported by many 
apposite quotations from the sacred Scrip~ 
ture and the Fathers. The remarks on 
the " Sacraments * are especially valuable. 

I should observe, that after I had trans 
lated the work, I found it had already been 
translated more than a century ago, by a 
Rev. John Ball.-" But on comparing it 
with the Latin, I soon found that it was 
more a paraphrase than a translation; 
that whole sentences were omitted in almost 
every page; that remarks were inserted 
which were not in the original, and espe 
cially that everything connected with the 
doctrines of the Catholic Church was care 
fully expunged. 

The translator, however, acknowledges 
as much in his Preface : " Wherever my 
author goes off into the Romish innova 
tions, I have attempted to give him another 
turn. I must farther own, that I have 
taken some liberty, where it was proper, to 
enlarge his thoughts " &c. (P. v.) 

* London, 1720. 


This is now called by some living writers, 
who are so fond of translating Catholic 
books of devotion, " adapting them to the 
use of the English Church."* Is it not a 
pity, that many of our best spiritual writers 
should be so translated by those of another 
communion, and that we ourselves should 
be rather backward in giving proper Trans 
lations to the public ? 

I trust that by the .Blessing of God, this 
Translation, (such as it is,) on so important, 
so momentous a subject, may produce some 
good fruit in due season. And if there be 
any who shall feel after its perusal, that 
they have gained some spiritual profit to 
their soul, may I be allowed to make one 
humble yet eaniest request ? This is, that 
such would bestow a trifle on me, for the 
love of God, towards enabling me to liqui 
date the debt still remaining on my Church. 
" Charity covereth a multitude of sins/* 
and being the Queen of all other virtues, 
she powerfully pleads for us before the 
throne of mercy, and induces the Almighty 

* See the translation of Avrillon, hy Dr. Tusey, 


to bestow His divine grace upon us, that 
by leading a good life, we may be enabled 
to die a holy Death. 


St. Mary s Church, 

Lynn, Norfolk. 


BEING now free from Public business 
and enabled to attend to myself, when in 
my usual retreat I consider, what is the 
reason why so very few endeavour to learn 
the "Art of dying Well," (which all men 
ought to know,) I can find no other cause 
than that mentioned by the Wise man: 
The perverse are hard to be corrected, 
and the number of fools is infinite. "* For 
what folly can be imagined greater than to 
neglect that Art, on which depend our 
highest and eternal interests ; whilst on the 
other hand we learn with great labour, and 
practise with no less ardour, other almost 
innumerable arts, in order either to pre 
serve or to increase perishable things? 

* Ecclesiastes, i. 15. 


Now every one will admit, that the " Art 
of dying Well" is the most important of 
all sciences ; at least every one who seri 
ously reflects, how after death we shall 
have to give an account to God of every 
thing we did, spoke, or thought of, during 
our whole life, even of every idle word ; and 
that the devil being our accuser, our con 
science a witness, and God the Judge, a 
sentence of happiness or misery everlasting 
awaits us. We daily see, how when judg 
ment is expected to be given, even on 
affairs of the slightest consequence, the in 
terested party enjoy no rest, but consult at 
one time the lawyers, at another the soli 
citors, now the judges, and then their 
friends or relations. But in death when a 
"Cause" is pending before the Supreme 
Judge, connected with life or death eternal, 
often is the sinner compelled, when unpre 
pared, oppressed by disease, and scarcely 
possessed of reason, to give an account of 
those things on which when in health, he 
had perhaps never once reflected. This is 
the reason why miserable mortals rush in 
crowds to hell; and as St. Peter saith, 


" If the just man shall scarcely be saved, 
where shall the ungodly and the sinner 
appear?""" I have therefore considered it 
would be useful to exhort myself, in the 
first place, and then my Brethren, highly 
to esteem the "Art of dying Well." And 
if there be any who, as yet, have not ac 
quired this Art from other learned teachers, 
I trust they will not despise, at least those 
Precepts which I have endeavoured to 
collect, from Holy Writ and the Ancient 

But before I treat of these Precepts, I 
think it useful to inquire into the nature of 
death ; whether it is to be ranked among 
good or among evil things. Now if death be 
considered absolutely m itself, without doubt 
it must be called an evil, because that 
which is opposed to life we must admit 
cannot be good. Moreover, as the Wise 
man saith : " God made not death, but by 
the envy of the devil, death came into the 
world."! With these words St. Paul also 
agrees, when he saith : " Wherefore as by 

* 1st of St. Peter, iv. 1 
Wisdom i. 11. verses 13 24. 


one man sin entered into this world, and by 
sin death: and so death passed upon all 
men in whom all have sinned.""" If then 
God did not make death, certainly it can 
not be good, because every thing which 
God hath made is good, according to the 
words of Moses : " And God saw all things 
that he had made, and they were very 

But although death cannot be con 
sidered good in itself, yet the wisdom of 
God hath so seasoned it as it were, that 
from death many blessings arise. Hence 
David exclaims ; " Precious in the sight of 
the Lord is the death of his saints:" and 
the Church speaking of Christ saith : "Who 
by His death hath destroyed our death, 
and by His resurrection hath regained 
life." Now death that hath destroyed 
death and regained life, cannot but be very 
good : wherefore if every death cannot be 
called good, yet at least some may. Hence 
St. Ambrose did not hesitate to write a book 
entitled, "On the Advantages of Death;" 
in which treatise he clearly proves that 

* Romans v. 12. 


death, although produced by sin, pos 
sesses its peculiar advantages. 

There is also another reason which 
proves that death, although an evil in 
itself, can, by the grace of God, produce 
many blessings. For, first, there is this 
great blessing, that death puts an end to 
the numerous miseries of this life. Job 
thus eloquently complains of the evils of 
this our present state : " Man born of a 
woman, living for a short time, is filled 
with many miseries. Who conieth forth 
like a flower and is destroyed, and fleeth as 
a shadow, and never continucth in the 
same state.""" And Ecclesiastes saith: 
"I praised the dead rather than the living: 
and I judged him happier than them both, 
that is not yet born, nor hath seen the evils 
that are under the sun/ f Ecclesiasticus 
likewise adds: " Great labour is created 
for all men, and a heavy yoke is upon 
the children of Adam, from the day of 
their coming out of their mother s womb, 
until the day of their burial into the 

* Chap. iv. 
j- iv. verses 2, 3. 


mother of all. (chap, xl.) The Apostle too 
complains of the miseries of this life: 
" Unhappy man that I am, who shall 
deliver me from the body of this death?" 
(Epistle to Romans, vii. 24.) 

From these testimonies, tnerefore, of 
Holy Writ it is quite evident, that death 
possesses an advantage, in freeing us from 
the miseries of this life. But it also hath 
a still more excellent advantage, because it 
may become the gate from a prison to 
a Kingdom. This was revealed by our 
Lord to St. John the Evangelist, when for 
his faith he had been exiled into, the isle of 
Patmos: "And I heard a voice from 
heaven saying to me: Write, blessed are 
the dead who die in the Lord. From 
henceforth now, saith the spirit, that they 
may rest from their labours: for their 
works follow them."" Truly " blessed" is 
the death of the saints, which by the com 
mand of the Heavenly King frees the soul 
from the prison of the flesh, and conducts 
her to a celestial Kingdom ; where just souls 
sweetly rest after all their labours, and for 

* Apocalypse xiv. 13. 


the reward of their good works, receive a 
crown of glory. To the souls in purgatory 
also, death brings no slight benefit, for it 
delivers them from the fear of death, and 
makes them certain of possessing one day, 
eternal Happiness. Even to wicked men 
themselves, death seems to be of some 
advantage ; for in freeing them from the 
body, it prevents the measure of their 
punishment from increasing. On account 
of these excellent advantages, death to 
good men seems not horrible, but sweet ; 
not terrible, but lovely. Hence St. Paul 
securely exclaims : " For to me, to live is 
Christ ; and to die is gain having a de 
sire to be dissolved and to be with Christ:" 
and his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, 
he saith : "We will not have you ignorant, 
brethren, concerning them that are asleep, 
that you be not sorrowful, even as others 
who have not hope/ (iv. 12.) There lived 
some time ago a certain holy lady, named 
Catherine Adorna, of Genoa; she was so 
inflamed with the love of Christ, that with 
the most ardent desires she wished to be 
" dissolved/ and to depart to her Beloved : 


hence, seized as it were with a love for 
death, she often praised it as most beau 
tiful and most lovely, blaming it only for 
this that it fled from those who desired it, 
and was found by those who fled from it. 

From these considerations then we may 
conclude, that death, as produced by sin, 
is an evil ; but that, by the grace of Christ 
who condescended to suffer death for us, it 
hath become in many ways salutary, lovely, 
and to be desired. 



He who desires to die well, nust live well, . . 1 

The second precept, which is, to die to the world, 4 


The third precept, which is concerning the three 

theological virtues, ... ... ... 12 


The fourth precept, containing three evangelical 

counsels, ... ... ... ... ... 19 


The fifth precept, in which the deceitful error 

of the rich of this world is exposed, .. 28 


The sixth precept, in which three moral virtues 

are explained, 34 

The seventh precept, which is on Prayer, ... 41 



The eighth precept, on Fasting, 

The ninth precept, on Ahnsdeeds, 61 






On the holy Eucharist, 

... 85 


On the sacrament of Penance, . 



The fourteenth precept, on the sacrament of 

Holy Orders, ... ... 99 


The fifteenth precept, on Matrimony, 107 


The sixteenth precept, on the sacrament of 

Extreme Unction, 115 




I NOW commence the rules to be observed 
in the Art of dying well. This art I shall 
divide into two parts: in the first I shall 
speak of the precepts we must follow whilst 
in good health; in the other of those we 
should observe when we are dangerously 
ill, or near death s-door. 

We shall first treat of those precepts 
that relate to virtue; and afterwards of 
those which relate to the sacraments : for, 
by these two we shall be especially enabled 
both to live well, and to die well. But 
the general rule, " that he who lives well, 
will die well," must be mentioned before 
all others : for since death is nothing more 

- 2 


than the end of life, it is certain that all 
who live well to the end, die well; nor can 
he die ill, who hath never lived ill ; as, on 
the other hand, he who hath never led a 
good life, cannot die a good death. The 
same thing is observable in many similar 
cases : for all that walk along the right 
path, are sure to arrive at the place of their 
destination ; whilst, on the contrary, they 
who wander from it, will never arrive at their 
journey s end. They also who diligently 
apply to study, will soon become learned 
doctors ; but they who do not, will be 

But, perhaps, some one may mention, as 
an objection, the example of the good thief, 
who lived ill and yet died well. This was 
not the case ; for that good thief led a holy 
life, and therefore died a holy death. But, 
even supposing he had spent the greater 
part of his days in wickedness, yet the 
other part of his life was spent so well, that 
he easily repented of his former sins, and 
gained the greatest graces. For, burning 
with the love of God, he openly defended 
our Saviour from the calumnies of His 
enemies ; and filled with the same charity 
towards his neighbour, he rebuked and ad 
monished his blaspheming companion, and 
endeavoured to convert him. lie was yet 
alive when he thus addressed him, saying: 
" Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou 
art under the same condemnation ? And we 
indeed justly, for we receive the due reward 


of our deeds: but this man hath done no 
evil." (St. Luke xxiii. 40, 41.) Neither 
was he dead when, confessing and calling 
upon Christ, he uttered these noble words : 
"Lord, remember me when thou shalt 
come into thy kingdom." The good thief 
then appeared to "have been one of those 
who came last into the vineyard, and yet 
he received a reward greater than the first. 

True, therefore, is the sentence, " He 
who lives well, dies well;" and, " He who 
lives ill, dies ill." We must acknowledge 
that it is a most dangerous thing to deter 
till death our conversion from sin to virtue : 
far more happy are they who begin to 
carry the yoke of the Lord "from their 
youth," as Jeremiah saith; and exceedingly 
blessed are those, " who were not defiled 
with women, and in whose mouth there 
was found no lie : for they are without spot 
before the throne of God. These were 
purchased from among men, the first-fruits 
to God and to the Lamb." (Apoc. xiv. 
4, 5.) Such were Jeremias, and St. John, 
"more than a prophet;" and above all, the 
Mother of our Lord, as well as many more 
whom God alone knoweth. 

This first great truth now remains estab 
lished, that a good death depends upon a 
good life. 




Now, that we may live well it is neces 
sary, in the first place, that we die to the 
world before we die in the body. All they 
who live to the world are dead to God : we 
cannot in any way begin to live to God, 
unless we first die to the w r orld. This 
truth is so plainly revealed in Holy Scrip 
ture, that it can be denied by no one but 
infidels and unbelievers. But, as in the 
mouth of two or three witnesses every word 
shall stand, I will quote the holy apostles, 
St. John, St. James, and St. .Paul, wit 
nesses the more powerful, because in them 
the Holy Spirit (who is the Spirit of Truth) 
plainly speaketh. Thus writes St. John 
the Evangelist: " The prince of this world 
cometh, and in me he hath not anything," 
(chap. xiv. 30.) Here the devil is meant 
by " the prince of this world," who is the 
king of all the wicked: and by the "world" 
is understood the company of all sinners 
who love the world, and are loved by it. A 
little lower the same Evangelist continues : 
"If the world hate you, know ye that it 
hath hated me before you. If you had 
been of the world, the world would love its 


own; but because you are not of the world, 
but I have chosen you out of the world, 
therefore the world hateth you." And in 
another place : " I pray not for the world, 
but for them whom thou hast given me." 
Here Christ clearly tells us, that by the 
" world" those are meant, who, with their 
prince the devil, shall hear at the last day : 
" Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." St. 
John adds also in his Epistle : " Love not 
the world, nor the things that are in the 
world. If any man love the world, the 
charity of the Father is not in him. For 
all that is in the world is the concupiscence 
of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the 
eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of 
the Father, but is of the world. And the 
world passeth away, and the concupiscence 
thereof. But he that doth the will of God 
abideth for ever." (1 Epist. ii.) 

Let us now hear how St. James speaks 
in his Epistle : " Adulterers, know you not 
that the friendship of this world is the 
enemy of God? Whosoever, therefore, 
will be a Mend of the world, becometh an 
enemy to God." (chap. iv. 4.) 

Thus St. Paul, that vessel of election, 
speaketh; in his First Epistle to the Corin 
thians, writing to all the faithful, he says : 

You must needs go out of this world ;" 
and in another place in the same Epistle : 

But whilst we are judged, we are chas 
tised by the Lord: that we be not con 
demned with this world." (chap. xi. 32.) 


Here we are clearly told, that the whole 
world will be condemned at the last day. 
But by the "world" is not meant heaven 
and earth, nor all those who live in it ; but 
they only who love the world. The just 
and pious in whom reigneth the love of 
God, not the concupiscence of the flesh 
are indeed in the world, but not of the 
world : but the wicked are not only in the 
world, they are also of the world; and 
therefore not the love of God, but the "con 
cupiscence of the flesh" reigneth in their 
heart, that is, luxury and the concu 
piscence of the eyes," which is avarice 
and " the pride of life," which is an esteem 
of themselves above others ; and thus they 
imitate the arrogance and pride of the 
devil, not the humility and mildness of 
Jesus Christ. 

Since, then, such is the truth, if we wish 
to learn the Art of dying well, it is our 
bounden and serious duty to_go forth from 
the world, not in word and in tongue, but 
in deed and in truth : yea, to die to the 
world, and to exclaim with the Apostle, 
" The world is crucified to me, and I to the 
world." This business is no trifling mat 
ter, but one of the utmost difficulty and 
importance: for our Lord being asked, 
"Are they few that are saved?" replied, 
" Strive to enter by the narrow gate ;" and 
more clearly in St. Matthew doth He speak: 
" Enter ye in at the narrow gate : for wide 
is the gate and broad is the way that 


leadeth to destruction, and many there are 
who go in thereat. How narrow is the 
.irate, and strait is the way that leadeth to 
life: and few there are that find it!" 
(chap, vii.) 

To live in the world, and to despise the 
pleasures of the world, is very difficult : to 
see beautiful objects, and not to love them; 
to taste sweet things, and not to be de 
lighted with them ; to despise honours, to 
court labours, willingly to occupy the lowest 
place, to yield the highest to all others in 
fine, to live in the flesh as if not having 
flesh, this seems rather to belong to angels 
than to men ; and yet the apostle, writing 
to the Church of the Corinthians, in which 
nearly all lived with their wives, and who 
were therefore neither clerics, nor monks, 
nor anchorets, but, according to the ex 
pression now used, were seculars still, he 
thus addresses them: "This therefore I 
say, brethren, the time is short; it ro 
inaineth, that they also who have wives be 
as if they had none ; and they that weep, 
as though they wept not ; and they that 
rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they 
that buy, as though they possessed not; 
and they that use this world, as if they 
used it not, for the fashion of this world 
passeth away." (1 Corinth, vii. 29. <fcc.) 

By these words the apostle exhorts the 
faithful that, being encouraged by the hope 
of eternal happiness, they should be as little 
affected by earthly things as if they did not 


belong to them ; that they should love 
their wives only with a moderated love, as 
if they had them not ; that if they wept for 
the loss of children or of their goods, they 
should weep but little, as if they were not 
sorrowful; that if they rejoiced at their 
worldly honours or success, they should re 
joice as if they had no occasion to rejoice 
that is, as if joy did not belong to them ; 
that if they bought a house or field, they 
should be as little affected by it as if they 
did not possess it. In fine, the apostle 
orders us so to live in the world, as if we were 
strangers and pilgrims, not citizens. And 
this St. Peter more clearly teaches where 
he says : " Dearly beloved, I beseech you 
as strangers and pilgrims to refrain your 
selves from carnal desires which war against 
the soul." (1 Epist. ii.) Thus the most 
glorious prince of the apostles wishes us, so 
to live in our own house and city as if we 
dwelt in another s, being little solicitous 
whether there is abundance or scarcity of 
provisions. But he commands us, that we 
so abstain "from carnal desires which war 
against the soul;" for carnal desires do 
not easily arise when we see those things 
which do not belong _ to us. This, there 
fore, is the way to be in the world, and not 
of the world, which those do who, being 
dead to the world, live to God alone ; and, 
therefore, such do not fear the death of the 
body, which brings them not harm but 
gain, according to the saying of the Apos- 


tie Paul, " For to me, to live is Christ: and 
to die is gain." 

And how many, I ask, shall we find in. 
our times, so dead to the world as already 
to have learnt to die to the flesh, and thus 
to secure their salvation ? I have certainly 
no doubt, that in the Catholic Church are 
to be found, not only in monasteries and 
amongst the clergy, but even in the world, 
many holy men, truly dead to the world, 
who have learned the Art of dying well. 
But it cannot be denied also, that many 
are to be found, not only not dead to the 
world, but ardently fond of it, and lovers of 
its pleasures, riches, and honours : these, 
unless they resolve to die to the world, and 
in reality do so, without doubt will die a 
bad death, and be condemned with the 
world, as the apostle saith. 

But perhaps the lovers of the world may 
reply, " It is very difficult to die to the 
world, whilst we are living in it; and to 
despise those good things which God has 
created for our enjoyment." To these 
words I answer, that God does not wish 
us entirely and absolutely to neglect or 
despise the riches and honours of this 
world. Abraham was an especial favourite 
with God ; and yet he possessed great 
riches. David also, and Ezechias, and 
Josias, were most powerful kings ; and at 
the same time most pleasing to God : the 
same may be said of many Christian kings 
and emperors. The good things of this 


life, therefore its riches, honours, and 
pleasures are not entirely forbidden to 
Christians, but only an immoderate love of 
them, which is named by St. John, " the 
concupiscence of the flesh, the concu 
piscence of the eyes, and the pride of life." 
Abraham certainly possessed great riches, 
but he not only made a moderate use of 
them, he was also most willing to dispose 
of them, when and how the Almighty 
willed. For he who spared not his only 
beloved son, how much more easily could 
he part with his riches, if God so wished ? 
Wherefore Abraham was rich, but he was 
richer in faith and charity; and there 
fore he was not of the world, but rather 
dead to it. The same may be said of 
other holy men, who, possessed of riches, 
power, and glory, and even kingdoms, 
were yet poor in spirit, dead to the world, 
and thus living to God alone, they learned 
perfectly the Art of dying well Wherefore, 
not abundance of riches, nor kingdoms, nor 
honours, make us to be of the world ; but 
"the concupiscence of the flesh, the concu 
piscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, 
which in one word is called cupidity, and is 
opposed to divine charity. If then we should 
begin, the grace of God inspiring us, to 
love God for His own sake and our neigh 
bours for God s sake, we shall then not be 
of this world : and as our love increaseth, 
our cupidity will diminish ; for charity can 
not increase without the other diminish- 


ing. Thus, what appeared impossible to 
be done, when our passions reigned within 
us, " to live in this world as if we did not 
belong to it," will be made most easy 
when love resides in our heart. What is 
an insupportable burden to cupidity, is 
sweet and light to love. 

As we said above, to die to the world is 
no light matter, but a business of the 
greatest difficulty and importance. Those 
find it most difficult who know not the 
power of God s grace, nor have tasted of 
the sweetness of His love, but are carnal, 
not having the Spirit: all carnal objects 
become insipid, when once we taste of the 
divine sweetness. 

Wherefore, he who seriously desireth to 
learn the Art of dying well, on which his 
etenial salvation and all true happiness 
depend, must not defer quitting this world, 
and entirely dying to it: he cannot pos 
sibly live to the world and to God; he 
cannot enjoy earth and heaven 




IN the last chapter we showed, that no 
one can die a good death, without first 
dying to the world. Now we shall point 
out wheat he must do who is dead to the 
world, in order that he may live to God ; 
for in the first chapter we proved, that no 
man can die well, without having lived 
well. The essence of a good life is laid 
down by St. Paul, in his first Epistle to 
Timothy, in these words : " Now the end 
of the commandment is charity from a pure 
heart, and a good conscience, and an un 
feigned faith." (chap, i.) The apostle was 
not ignorant of the answer our Lord gave 
to one who had asked Him : " What shall 
I do to possess eternal life ? " He answered, 
" If thou wilt enter into life, keep the com 
mandments." But the apostle wished to 
explain, in the fewest words, the end of the 
first commandment, on which the whole 
law, and the understanding of it, and its 
observance, and the way to eternal life, 
depend. At the same time he also wished 
to teach us, what are the virtues necessary 
to attain perfect justice, of which he had 
spoken in another place : " And now there 


remain faith, hope, charity, these three: 
but the greater of these is charity." 
(1 Epist. to Corinth, xiii. 13.) He says, 
therefore, the end of the precpts is Cha 
rity: that is, the end of all precepts, the 
observance of which is necessary for a good 
life, consists in charity. Thus, he that 
loves God, fulfils all the precepts which 
relate to the first table of the law ; and he 
that loves his neighbour, fulfils all the com 
mands which relate to the second. This 
truth St. Paul teaches more clearly in his 
Epistle to the Romans: "He that loveth 
his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law. For, 
thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt 
not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not 
bear false witness, thou shalt not covet: 
And if there be any other commandment, 
it is comprised in this word, Thou shalt 
love thy neighbour as thyself. The love of 
our neighbour worketh no evil. Love, 
therefore, is the fulfilling of the law." 
(chap. xiii. 8, <fcc.) From these words we 
can understand, that all the precepts which 
relate to the worship of God, are included 
in charity. For as the love of one neigh 
bour towards another does not produce 
evil ; so also the love of God cannot pro 
duce evil. Wherefore the fulfilling of the 
law, both as regards God and our neigh 
bour, is love. J3ut what is the nature of 
true and perfect charity towards God and 
our neighbour ? the same apostle declareth 
Baying: "Charity, from a pure heart, and a 


good conscience, and in unfeigned faith." 
In these words, by a "good conscience," 
we understand with St. Augustine, in his 
Preface to the xxxi. Psalm, the virtue of 
hope, which is one of the three theological 
virtues. Hope is called a "good con 
science," because it springs from a good 
conscience, just the same as despair arises 
from an evil conscience ; hence St. John 
saith : " Dearly beloved, if our heart do not 
reprehend us, we have confidence towards 
God." (I Epist. iii. 21.) 

There are, therefore, three virtues, in 
which the perfection of the Christian law 
consists; charity from a pure heart, hope 
from a good conscience, and faith un 
feigned. But as charity is first in the 
order of perfection, so in the order of gene 
ration, faith cometh first, according to the 
words of the apostle : " Now there remain, 
faith, hope, charity, these three ; but the 
greater of these is charity." 

Let us begin with faith, which is the first 
of all the virtues that exists in the heart of 
a justified man. Not without reason, doth 
the apostle add " unfeigned" to faith. For 
faith begins justification, provided it be 
true and sincere, not false or feigned. The 
faith of heretics does not begin justifica 
tion, because it is not true, but false ; the 
faith of bad Catholics does not begin justi 
fication, because it is not sincere, but 
feigned. It is said to be feigned in two 
ways : when either we do not really believe, 


but only pretend to believe; or when we 
indeed believe, but do not live, as we be 
lieve we ought to do 

In both these ways it seems the words of 
St. Paul must be understood, in his Epis 
tle to Titus: "They profess that they 
know God : but in their works they deny 
him." (chap. i. 16.) Thus also do the holy 
fathers St. Jerome and St. Augustine, in 
terpret these words of the apostle. 

Now, from this first virtue of a just man, 
we may easily understand, how great 
must be the multitude of those who do not 
live well, and who therefore die ill. I pass 
by infidels, pagans, heretics, and athe 
ists, who are completely ignorant of the Art 
of dying well. And amongst Catholics, 
how many are there who in words, " pro 
fess to know God, but in their works deny 
him?" Who acknowledge the mother of 
our Lord to be a virgin, and yet fear not 
to blaspheme her? Who praise prayer, 
fasting, almsdeeds, and other good works, 
arid yet always indulge in the opposite 
vices ? I omit other things that are known 
to all. Let not those then boast that they 
possess " unfeigned " faith, who either do 
not believe what they pretend to believe, 
or else do not live as the Catholic Church 
commands them to do ; and therefore they 
acknowledge by this conduct, that they 
have not yet begun to live well: nor can 
they hope to die happily, unless by the 


grace of God they learn the Art of living 

Another virtue of a just man is hope, or 
"a good conscience," as St. Paul has 
taught us to call it. This virtue comes 
from faith, for he cannot hope in God who 
either does not know the true God, or does 
not believe Him to be powerful and merci 
ful. But to excite and strengthen our 
faith, that so it may be called not merely 
hope, but even confidence, a good con 
science is very necessary. For how can 
any one approach God, and ask favours 
from Him, when he is conscious of heaving 
committed sin, and of not having expiated 
it by true repentance ? Who asks a benefit 
from an enemy? Who can expect to be 
relieved by him, who he knows is incensea 
against him ? 

Hear what the wise man thinks 01 tne 
hope of the wicked: "The hope of the 
wicked is as dust, which is blown away 
with the wind, and as a thin froth which is 
dispersed by the storm : and a smoke that 
is scattered abroad by the wind ; and as 
the remembrance of a guest of one day that 
passeth by." (Wisdom v. 15.). Thus the 
wise man admonishes the wicked, that 
their hope is weak not strong ; short not 
lasting ; they may indeed, whilst they are 
alive, entertain somes hopes, that some 
day they will repent and be reconciled to 
God : but when death overtakes them, un 
less the Almighty by a special grace move 


their heart, and inspire them with true sor 
row, their hope will be changed into 
despair, and they will exclaim with the rest 
of the wicked : " Therefore we have erred 
from the way of truth, and the light of jus 
tice hath not shined unto us, and the sun 
of understanding hath not risen upon us. 

What hath pride profited us? or what 

advantage hath the boasting of riches 
brought us? All those things are passed 
away like a shadow," &c. (Wisdom v. 
6 8.) Thus doth the wise man admonish 
us, that if we wish to live well and die 
well, we must not dare to remain in sin, 
even for one moment, nor allow ourselves 
to be deceived by a vain confidence, that 
we have as yet many years to live, and 
that time will be given to us for repentance. 
Such a vain confidence hath deceived 
many, and will deceive many more, unless 
they wisely learn whilst they have time 
the Art of dying well. 

^ There now remaineth charity, the third 
virtue, which is justly called the " queen of 
virtues;" with this no one can perish, with 
out it no one can live, either in this life or 
in the next. But that alone is true charity 
which springs from a " pure heart:" it is 
"from God," as St. John saith; and also 
more clearly St. Paul, "The charity of 
God is poured forth in our hearts by the 
Holy Ghost, who is given to us." (Epist. to 
Romans v. 5.) Charity is therefore said to 
come from a "pure heart," because it is 


not enkindled in an impure heart, but in 
one purified from its errors by faith, ac 
cording to the words of the apostle Peter : 
"purifying their hearts by faith:" and by 
divine hope, it is also purified from the love 
and desire of earthly things. For as a fire 
cannot be enkindled in wood that is green 
or damp, but only in dry wood ; so also the 
fire of charity requires a heart purified from 
earthly affections, and from a foolish confi 
dence in its own strength. 

From this explanation we can under 
stand what is true charity, and what false 
and feigned. For should we delight to 
speak of God, and shed even tears at our 
prayers should we do many good works, 
give alms and often fast; but yet allow 
impure love to remain in our heart, or 
vain glory, or hatred to our neighbour, 
or any other of those vices that make our 
hearts depraved this is not true and di 
vine charity, but only its shadow. With 
the greatest reason then does St. Paul, 
when speaking of true and perfect justice, 
not mention simply, faith, hope, and cha 
rity : but he adds, " Now the end of the 
commandment is charity from a pure 
heart, and a good conscience, and an un 
feigned faith." This is the true Art of 
living and dying well, if we persevere till 
death in true and perfect charity 




ALTHOUGH what we have said on faith, 
hope, and charity, may seem sufficient to 
enable us to live well and die well ; yet, in 
order to effect these two objects more per 
fectly and more easily, our Lord Himself 
has deigned to give us three counsels in 
the Holy Scriptures: thus He speaks in 
St. Luke : " Let your loins be girt, and 
lamps burning in your hands. And you 
yourselves like to men who wait for their 
lord, when he shall return from the wed 
ding ; that when he cometh and knocketh, 
they may open to him immediately. Blessed 
are those servants, whom the Lord, when 
he cometh, shall find watching." (chap. 
xii. 35, 36.) 

This parable may be understood in two 
ways : of preparation for the coming of our 
Lord at the last day, and for His coming 
at the particular death of each one. This 
latter explanation which is that of St. 
Gregory on this gospel" seems more 
adapted to our subject : for the expectation 
of the last day, will chiefly regard only 

* Homily xiii. 


those who will then be alive: our Lord 
seems to have intended it for the apostles, 
not for all Christians, although the apostles 
and their successors were many ages dis 
tant from this day. Moreover, many signs 
will precede the last day, that will terrify 
men, according to the words of our Lord : 
" And there shall be signs in the sun, and 
in the moon, and in the stars: and upon the 

earth distress of nations Men withering 

away for fear, and expectation of what 
shall come upon the whole world." 

But no certain signs will precede the 
particular death of each one: and such a 
coming do those words signify, which are so 
frequently repeated in the Holy Scripture, 
that the Lord will come like " a thief" 
that is, when He is least expected. 

We will, therefore, briefly explain this 
parable, understanding by it that prepara 
tion for death, which above all things is so 
absolutely necessary for us. Our Lord 
commands us all to observe three things : 
First, that we have "our loins girt;" 
Secondly, that we have " lamps burning in 
our hands;" Thirdly, that we "watch " in 
expectation of the coming of our Judge, 
being no less ignorant when He will come, 
than we are of the coming of thieves. Let 
us explain the words, " Let your loins be 
girt." The literal meaning of these words 
is, that we should be ready prepared to go 
forth and meet the Lord, when death shall 
call us to our particular judgment. The 


comparison of the garments being girt, is 
taken from the custom of Eastern nations 
that use long garments ; and when they are 
about to go on a journey or to walk, they 
gather up their garments and gird their 
loins, lest their garments should be in their 
way. Hence it is said of the angel Raphael, 
who had come as a guide to the younger 
Tobias : " Then going forth, found a beau 
tiful young man, standing girded, and as it 
were ready to walk." (Tobias v. 5.) 

And according to the same custom of the 
Orientals, St. reter writes : " Wherefore, 
haying the loins of your mind girt up, 
being sober, trust perfectly in the grace 
which is offered you," &c. (1 Epist. i. 13.) 
And St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ephe- 
sians says : " Stand therefore, having your 
loins girt about with truth." (i. 14.) 

Now, to have our "loins girt," signifies 
two things: First, the virtue of chastity; 
Secondly, a readiness to meet our Lord 
coming to judgment, whether it be the par 
ticular or the general judgment. The holy 
fathers, St. Basil, St. Augustine, and St. 
Gregory, give the first explanation. And 
truly, the concupiscence of the flesh, be 
yond all other passions, doth greatly hin 
der us from being ready to meet Christ; 
whilst, on the other hand, nothing makes 
us more fit to follow our Lord, than virgi 
nal chastity. We read in the Apocalypse 
how virgins follow the Lamb "whither 
soever he goeth." And the apostle saith: 


" lie that is without a wife is solicitous for 
the things that belong to the Lord, how he 
may please ^God. 13ut he that is with a 
wife, is solicitous for the things of the 
world, how he may please his wife ; and he 
is divided." (1 Epist. to Cor. yii. 32, 33.) 
But another explanation, which does not 
restrict the "the loins girt" to continence 
alone, but includes a ready obedience to 
Christ in all things, is that of St. Cy 
prian :~ ;: we shall also follow the explanation 
which most commentators give of this pas 
sage. The meaning then of these words 
is, that the affairs of this life even the 
most necessary and important must not so 
occupy our mind as to hinder us from di 
recting our first thoughts, by preparing to 
meet Christ when He shall call upon us at 
our death, to give an account of all our 
works, yea, of all our words and thoughts, 
even unto every idle word and frivolous 
thought. What will they do then, when 
death cometh suddenly upon them, who 
are now wholly immersed in worldly cares, 
and who never think for one moment of 
the account they will have to give to God, 
of all their works, of all their words, of all 
their thoughts, of all their desires, and of 
all their omissions ? Will these be able to 
meet Christ, with their loins girt ? Rather, 
will they not, being entangled and bound, 
fall in their sins into despair ? For what 

* Liber dc Exhortat. ilartyrii, cap. viii. 


can they answer, when the Judge shall say 
unto them : "Why did you not attend to my 
words, with which I so often admonished 
you, saying : Seek first the kingdom of God 
and his justice, and all other things shall 
be added unto you? And why also did 
you not consider those words, which you 
must have so often heard in the church, 
Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and 
art troubled about many things. But one 
thing is necessary. Maiy hath chosen the 
better part, which shall not be taken away 
from her ? If I reprehended Martha, who 
was so anxious to serve me, can I be 
pleased with your anxiety to hoard up 
superfluous wealth, to attain dangerous 
honours, to satisfy your sinful passions; 
and, in the mean time, to forget the king 
dom of God and His justice, which above 
all other things is so necessary for you?" 

But we will now explain another duty of 
the diligent and faithful servant: "And 
lamps burning in your hand." It is not 
sufficient for the faithful servant to have his 
"loins girt," that so he may freely and easily 
meet his Lord; a burning lamp is also 
required to show him the way, because at 
night he should be expecting the Lord, 
when Ho returneth from the nuptial ban 
quet. In this place, "the lamp" signifies 
the law of Gocl, which will point out the 
right path. David saith: " Thy word is a 
lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." 
The "law is a light/ saith Solomon in the 


Book of Proverbs. But this lamp cannot 
illumine or point out the way, if it be left 
in cur chamber or house, and therefore we 
must hold it in our hand, that it may 
show us the right way. Many there 
are well acquainted with divine and hu 
man laws, but they commit many sins, 
or omit many good and necessary works, 
because they have not a lamp in their 
hands that is, because their know 
ledge does not extend to works. How 
many most learned men are there, who 
commit very grievous sins, because when 
they act they consult not the law of the 
Lord, but their anger, their lust, or some 
other passion ! If king David, when he 
saw Bethsabee naked, had remembered the 
command of God, " Thou shalt not covet 
thy neighbour s wife," he would never have 
fallen into so great a crime ; but, because 
he was delighted with the beauty of the 
woman, forgetting the divine law, this man, 
once so just and holy, committed adultery. 
Wherefore, we must always hold the lamp 
of the law, not hidden in our chamber, but 
in our hands, and obey those words of the 
Holy Spirit, who orders us to meditate on 
the law of the Lord " day and night," that 
so with the prophet we may say: "Thou 
hast commanded thy commandments to be 
kept most diligently. that my ways may 
be directed to keep thy justifications! 
(Psalm cxviii.) He who always keeps be 
fore his eyes the lamp of the law, will 


always be ready to meet his Lord when 
ever He cpmeth. 

The third and last duty of the faithful 
servant is "to watch/ being uncertain 
when the Lord shall come : " Blessed are 
those servants whom, when the Lord shall 
come, he shall find watching." Our Crea 
tor does not wish that men should die at a 
certain known time, lest during all the 
period before this they should indulge in 
sin, and then endeavour to be converted to 
God a little before their death. Divine 
Providence hath, therefore, so disposed 
things that nothing is more uncertain than 
the hour of death : some die in the womb, 
some when scarcely born, some in extreme 
old age, some in the flower of youth, whilst 
others languish a long time, or die sud 
denly, or recover from a severe sickness and 
almost incurable disease; others are only 
slightly affected, but when they seem secure 
from death, the disease comes on again, 
and takes them away. To this uncer 
tainty our Lord alludes in the Gospel : 
"And if he shall come in the second watch, 
or come in the third watch, and find them 
so, blessed are those servants. But this 
know ye, that if the householder did 
know at what hour the thief would come, 
he would surely watch, and would not suf 
fer his house to be broken open. Be you 
then also ready : for at what hour you 
think not, the Son of Man will come." 
(St. Luke xii. 38, tkc.) In order that we 


may be convinced how important it is for 
us to be persuaded of the uncertainty of the 
time in which the Lord shall come to judge 
whether it be at our death, or at the end 
of the world nothing is more frequently 
repeated in the Holy Scriptures than the 
word, " Watch," and also the comparison 
of the " Thief," who often cometh when he 
is least expected. The word, Watch," 
continually found in the Gospels of St. 
Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke ; also in 
the Epistles of the Apostles, and in the 

From these considerations it is evident, 
how great must be the negligence and 
ignorance, not to say the blindness and 
madness of the greater part of mankind, 
who, although so often warned by the 
Spirit of Truth itself, who cannot deceive, 
to prepare for death, (that great and most 
difficult affair, 011 which eternal happiness 
or misery depends ;) yet few are there that 
are roused by the words, or rather by the 
thunder of the Holy Spirit. 

But some one may reply: "What advice 
do you give to teach us to watch as 
we ought, and by watching to prepare for 
a good death?" Nothing more useful 
occurs to me, than for us frequently and 
seriously to examine our conscience, that 
so we may prepare for death. All Catho 
lics, when every year they are about to 
confess their sins, fail not beforehand to 
examine their conscience. And, indeed, 


when they fall sick, according to the decree 
of Pope Pius V., the doctor is forbidden to 
visit them a _ second time, until, having 
examined their conscience, their sins have 
been expiated by an humble confession. 
In fine, there are hardly any Catholics, 
who, when near death, do not confess their 
sins. But what shall we say of those who 
are snatched away by a sudden death? 
V\ hat of those who are afflicted with mad 
ness, or fall into delirium before confession? 
What of those who, being grievously 
afflicted by their disease, cannot even think 
of their ^ sins ? What of those who sin 
whilst dying, or die in sin, as they do who 
engage in an unjust war, or in a duel, or 
are killed in the act of adultery ? 

Prudently to avoid these and other like 
misfortunes, nothing can be imagined more 
useful than for those who value their salva 
tion, , twice every day, morning and night, 
diligently to examine their conscience; 
what they have done during the night, 
or the preceding day ; what they have 
said, desired, or thought of, in which 
sin may have entered; and if they shall 
discover anything mortal, let thein not 
defer seeking the remedy of true con 
trition, with a resolution to approach the 
sacrament of penance on the very first 
opportunity. Wherefore, let them ask of 
trod the gift of contrition, let them ponder 
on the enormity of sin, let them detest their 
sms from their heart, and seriously ask 


themselves who is the "offended and the 
offenders." Man, a worm, offends God 
the Almighty; a base slave, the Lord of 
heaven and earth ! Spare not then your 
tears, nor cease to strike your breast: in 
fine, make a firm resolution never more to 
offend God, never more to irritate the best 
of Fathers. If this examination be con 
tinued morning and night, or at least once 
in the day, it can scarcely happen that we 
shall die in sin, or mad, or delirious. Thus 
it will be, that every preparation being 
made for a good death, neither its uncer 
tainty will trouble us, nor the happiness of 
eternal life fail us. 



IN addition to what has been already said, 
I must add the refutation of a certain error 
very prevalent among the rich of this world, 
and which greatly hinders them from living 
well and dying well. The error consists in 
this : the rich suppose that the wealth they 
possess is absolutely their own property, if 
justly acquired; and that therefore they 


may lawfully spend, give away, or squan- 
der their money, and that no one can 
say to them, "Why do you do so? Why 
dress so richly? Why feast so sumptuously? 
Why so prodigal in supporting your dogs 
and hawks? Why do you spend so much 
money in gaming, or other such-like plea 
sures?" They will answer: "What is it 
to you ? Is it not lawful for me to do what 
I will with my own ?" 

Now, this error is doubtless most grievous 
and pernicious: for, granting that the 
" rich" are the masters of their own pro 
perty with relation to other men ; yet, with 
regard to God, they are not masters, but 
only administrators or stewards. This 
truth can be proved by many arguments. 
Hear the royal prophet : " The earth is the 
Lord s, and the fulness thereof: the world 
and all they that dwell therein." (Psalm 
xxiii.) And again : " For all the beasts of 
the wood are mine : the cattle on the hills, 
and the oxen. If I should be hungry, I 
would not tell thee : for the world is mine, 
and the fulness thereof." (Psalm xlix.) 

And in the first book of Paralipomenon, 
when David had offered for the building of 
the temple three thousand talents of gold 
and seven thousand talents of silver, and 
Parian marble in the greatest abundance ; 
and when, moved by the example of the 
king, the princes of the tribes had offered 
five thousand talents of gold, and ten thou 
sand of silver, and eighteen thousand of 


brass, and a hundred thousand of iron, then 
David said to God: "Thine, O Lord, is 
magnificence, and power, and glory, and 
victory : and to thee is praise ; for all that 
is in heaven or earth is thine : thine is the 
kingdom, Lord, and thon art above all 
princes. Thine are riches, and thine is 

glory, thou hast dominion over all : in thy 
and is power and might: in thy hand 
greatness and the empire of all things. 
Who am I, what is my people, that we 
should be able to promise thee all these 
things ? All things are thine ; and we have 
given thee what we have received of thy 
hand." (chap. xxix. 11, &c.) To these 
may be added the testimony of God Him 
self, w r ho by Aggscus the prophet saith: 
"Mine is silver, and mine is gold." This 
the Lord spoke, that the people might un 
derstand that for the new building of the 
temple nothing would be wanting, since 
He himself would order its erection, to 
whom belonged all the gold and silver in 
the world. 

I shall add two more testimonies from 
the words of Christ, in the New Testa 
ment : " There was a certain rich man who 
had a steward : and the same was accused 
unto him, that he had wasted his goods. 
And he called him, and said to him : How 
is it I hear this of thee ? Give an account 
of thy stewardship : for now thou canst be 
steward no longer." (St. Luke xvi.) By 
the "rich man" is here meant God, who, 


as we have just said, crieth out by the pro 
phet Aggseus : " Mine is silver, and mine 
is gold." By the "steward" is to be un 
derstood a rich man, as the holy Fathers 
teach, St. Chrysostom, St. Augustine, St. 
Ambrose, Venerable Bede, besides Theo- 
phylact, and Euthymius, and others on this 
passage. If the Gospel, then, is to be 
credited, every rich man of this world must 
acknowledge that the riches he possesses, 
whether justly or unjustly acquired, are not 
his : that if they be justly acquired, he is 
only the steward of them ; if unjustly, that 
he is nothing but a thief and a robber. And 
since the rich man is not the master of the 
wealth he possesses, it follows that, when 
accused of injustice before God, God re 
moves him from his stewardship, either by 
death or by want : such do the words sig 
nify, "Give an account of thy stewardship, 
for now thou canst be steward no longer." 
God will never be in want of ways to reduce 
the rich to poverty, and thus to remove them 
from their stewardship: such as by ship 
wrecks, robberies, hail-storms, cankers, 
too much rain, drought, and many other 
kinds of afflictions so many voices of God 
exclaiming to the rich: "Thou canst be 
steward no longer." 

But when, towards the end of the para 
ble, our Lord says: "Make unto you 
friends of the mammon of iniquity, that 
when you shall fail, they may receive you 
into everlasting dwellings," He does not 


mean that alms are to he given out of unjust 
riches, but of riches that are not riches, 
properly so speaking, but only the shadows 
of them. This is evidently the meaning 
from another passage in the same Gospel of 
St. Luke : " If then you have not been 
faithful in the unjust mammon, who will 
trust you with that which is the true?" 
The meaning of these words is : "If in the 
unjust mammon" that is, false riches 
"you have not been faithful" in giving libe 
rally to the poor, "who will trust you" with 
true riches the riches of virtues, which 
make men truly rich ? This is the expla 
nation given by St. Cyprian, and also by 
St. Augustine in the second book of his 
Evangelical Questions, where he says that 
mammon signifies "riches;" which the 
foolish and wicked alone consider to be 
riches, whilst wise and good men despise 
them, and assert that spiritual gifts are 
alone to be considered true riches. 

There is another passage in the same 
Gospel of St. Luke, which may be consi 
dered as a kind of commentary on the un 
just steward: "There was a certain rich 
man, who was clothed in purple and fine 
linen, and feasted sumptuously every day. 
And there was a certain beggar named 
Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores. 
Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that 
fell from the rich man s table, and no one 
did give him; moreover, the dogs came 
and licked his sores. And it came to pass 


that the beggar died, and was carried by 
the angels into Abraham s bosom. And 
the rich man also died : and he was buried 
in hell." This Dives was certainly one of 
those who supposed he was master of his 
own money, and not a steward under God; 
and therefore he imagined not that he 
offended against God, when he was clothed 
in purple and linen, and feasted sump 
tuously every day, and had his dogs, and 
his buffoons, <fcc. For he perhaps said 
within himself: " I spend my own money, 
I do no injury to any one, I violate not the 
laws of God, I do not blaspheme nor swear, 
I observe the sabbath, I honour my pa 
rents, I do not kill, nor commit adultery, 
nor steal, nor bear false witness, nor do I 
covet^ my neighbour s wife, or anything 
else." But if such was the case, why was 
he buried in hell ? why tormented in the 
fire ? We must then acknowledge that all 
those are deceived who suppose they are 
the / absolute" masters of their money; 
for if Dives had any more grievous sins to 
answer for, the Holy Scripture would cer- 
tainlv have mentioned them. But since 
nothing more has been added, we are given 
to understand that the superfluous adorn 
ment of his body with costly garments, and 
his daily magnificent banquets, and tluj 
multitude of his servants and dogs, whilst 
he had no compassion for the poor, was a 
sufficient cause of his condemnation to 



Let it, therefore, be a fixed rule for living 
well and dying well, often to consider and 
seriously to ponder on the account that 
must be given to God of our luxury in 
palaces, in gardens, in chariots, in the 
multitude of servants, in the splendour of 
dress, in banquets, in hoarding up riches, 
in unnecessary expenses, which injure a 
great multitude of the poor and sick, who 
stand in need of our superfluities ; and 
who now cry to God, and in the day of 
judgment will not cease crying out until 
we, together with the rich man, shall be 
condemned to eternal flames. 



ALTHOUGH the three theological virtues 
faith, hope, and charity include all the 
rules for living well, and therefore dying 
well ; yet the Holy Spirit, the author of all 
the books of Scripture, for the better un 
derstanding of this most necessary art, has 
added three other virtues, which in a won 
derful manner help men to live well and 
die well. These are, sobriety, justice, and 
piety of which the Apostle Paul speaks in 


his Epistle to Titus: "For the grace of our 
Lord ^ Jesus Christ hath appeared to all 
men, instructing us that, denying ungodli 
ness and worldly desires, we should live 
soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, 
looking for the blessed hope and coming of 
the great God and our Saviour Jesus 
Christ," ^ (chap, ii.) This, therefore, will 
be the sixth precept for living well and 
dying well: that, denying ungodliness 
and worldly desires, we should live soberly, 
and justly, and godly in this world." Here 
is an epitome of the whole of the divine 
law, reduced into one short sentence: 
Decline from evil, and do good." (Psalm, 
xxxyi.) In evil there are two things ; a 
turning away from God, and a turning to 
creatures, according to the prophet Jere- 
mias : My people have done two evils : 
they have forsaken me, the fountain of 
living waters, and have digged to them 
selves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can 
hold no water." (chap. ii. 13.) What must 
he therefore do, who wishes to decline from 
evil? He must "deny ungodliness and 
worldly desires." Ungodliness turns us 
away from God, and " worldly desires" 
turn us to creatures. As to doing good, 
we shall then fulfil the law when we live 
"soberly, justly, and piously" that is, 
when we are sober towards ourselves, just 
towards our neighbour, and pious towards 

But we will enter a little more into de- 


tail, in order to reduce more easily to prac 
tice this most salutary precept. What, 
then, is ungodliness? A vice contrary to 
piety. What is piety ? A virtue, or gift of 
the Holy Spirit, by which we regard God, 
and worship Him, and venerate Him as our 
Father. We are therefore commanded so 
to deny ungodliness, that we may "live 
piously in this world ;" or, what amounts 
to the same thing, so to live piously in this 
world, that we may deny all ungodliness. 
But why are these two mentioned, since 
Due would be sufficient ? The Holy Spirit 
sras thus pleased to speak, in order to make 
as understand that if we wish to please 
God, we must be so in love with piety as to 
admit of no impiety. For there are many 
Christians who seem pious by praying to 
God, by assisting at the adorable sacrifice, 
by hearing sermons, <fcc. ; but, in the 
meanwhile, they either blaspheme God, or 
swear falsely, or break through their vows. 
And what else is this, but to pretend to be 
"pious" towards God, and yet be impious 
at the same time ? Wherefore, it behoveth 
those who desire to live well that they may 
die well, so to worship God as to deny all 
ungodliness .yea, even the very shadow of 
it. For it will be of little profit daily to 
hear mass, and to adore Christ in the 
holy mysteries, if, in the mean time, we 
impiously blaspheme God, or swear by His 
holy name. 
But we must also carefully remark, that 


the apostle does not say, " denying ungod 
liness/ but "all ungodliness" that is, all 
kind of impiety; not only the more heinous 
sort, but even the slightest. And this is 
said against those who hesitate not to swear 
without necessity; who in sacred places 
gaze at females in an unbecoming, though 
not lascivious manner; who talk during 
mass, and commit other offences, as if they 
believed God was not present, and did not 
observe even the slightest sins. Our God 
is a jealous God, "visiting the iniquity 
of the fathers upon the children, unto the 
third and fourth generation of them that 
hate me : and showing mercy unto thou 
sands to them that love me, and keep mv 
commandments/ This the Son of God 
Himself has taught us by His own exam- 

Ele, who, although meek and humble of 
eart, when he was reviled, did not revile; 
when he suffered, he threatened not ;" but 
when he saw in the temple "them that sold 
oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the 
changers of money sittinsr," beinsr inflamed 
with great zeal, He made a scourge of little 
cords, and the money of the changers he 
poured out, their tables he overthrew, say 
ing: " My house is a house of prayer, but 
you have made it a den of thieves/ And 
this He did twice once in the first year of 
bis preaching, according to St. John ; and 
again m the hist year of his ministry, 
according to the testimony of three Evan 


Let us now proceed to the second virtue, 
which directs our actions towards our 
neighbours. This virtue is justice, of which 
the apostle speaks, that, " denying worldly 
desires, we live justly." Here that general 
sentence, "Decline from evil, and do 
good," is included; for there cannot be 
true justice towards our neighbours, where 
worldly desires prevail. But what do 
worldly desires mean but "the concupis 
cence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the 
eyes, and the pride of life?" These are 
not from God, but of the world. Where 
fore, as justice cannot be unjust, so also 
"worldly desires" cannot in any manner be 
united with true justice. A child of this 
world may indeed affect justice in ivords ; 
but he cannot possibly do so in deed and in 
truth. The apostle then most wisely said, 
not only that we should live justly, but he 
premised "denying worldly desires," that 
he might make us understand the poisonous 
root of concupiscence must first be plucked 
up, before the good tree of iustice can be 
planted in our heart. ^ 

No one can question what is meant by 
living "justly;" for we all know that jus 
tice commands us to give each one his due ; 
the apostle saith : " Render therefore to all 
men their dues. Tribute, to whom tribute 
is due : custom, to whom custom : fear, to 
whom fear: honour, to whom honour." 
(Epist. to Romans xiii. 7.) Tribute is due 
to a prince; honour to parents- fear to 


masters. Thus the apostle speaks by the 
prophet Malachy : "If then I be a father, 
where is my honour ? And if I be a master, 
where is my fear?" To the seller is due 
his just price, to the workman his just 
wages, and so of all other employments. 
And with much greater reason ought those 
to whom belongs the distribution of the 
public property, confer it on the most deser 
ving, not being influenced by any exception 
of persons, however related or dear to him 
they may be. If, then, we wish to learn 
well the Ait of dying well, let us hear the 
wise man crying out unto us: "Love justice, 
you that are the judges of the earth ;" hear 
St. James also lamenting in his Epistle : 
" Behold the hire of the labourers, \vlio 
have reaped down your fields, which by 
fraud has been kept back by you, crieth : 
and the cry of them hath entered into the 
ears of the Lord of Sabaoth." (chap. v. 4.) 
There now remaineth the third virtue, 
which is called sobriety, to which " worldly 
desires" are no less contrary than to jus 
tice^ And here we not only understand by 
sobriety the virtue contrary to drunkenness, 
but the virtue of temperance or moderation 
in general, which makes a man regulate 
w r hat regards his body according to reason, 
not according to passion. Now this virtue 
is very rarely found among men ; " worldly 
desires" seem to possess nearly all the rich 
of this world. 13ut those who are wise 
should not follow the example of the foolish; 


although they arc almost innumerable, they 
should imitate only the wise. Solomon 
was certainly the wisest of men, and yet he 
besought God, saying- : " Two things I have 
asked of thee, deny them not before I die. 
Give me neither beggary nor riches, give 
me only the necessaries of life." (chap. 
xxx. 7, 8.) The apostle Paul was wise, 
and he said : " For we brought nothing 
into this world, and certainly we can carry 
nothing out; but having food and where 
with to be covered, with these we are con 
tent." (Epist. to Tim. vi. 7.) These words 
are very wise, for why should we be solicit 
ous for superfluous riches, when we cannot 
take them with us to that place, towards 
which death is hurrying us. Christ our Lord 
was not only wiser than Solomon and St. 
Paul, but He was wisdom itself, and yet 
He also hath said, " Blessed are the poor, 
and woe to the rich;" and of Himself, 
" The foxes have holes, and the birds of 
the air nests, but the Son of man hath not 
where to lay his head." (St. Luke ix. 58.) 
If then " in the mouth of two or three wit 
nesses every word shall stand," how much 
more shall every word be true in the mouth 
of three most wise men ? And if to this we 
add, that our unnecessary riches are not 
our own, but belong to the poor, (as is the 
common opinion of the holy fathers and 
scholastic writers,) are not those foolish 
men, who carefully hoard up that by which 
they will be condemned to hell ? 


If then we wish to learn the Art of dying 
and living well, let us not follow the crowd 
who only believe and valne what is 
seen; but Christ and his apostles must we 
follow, who by word and deed have taught 
us that present things are to be despised, 
and " the hope and coming of the glory of 
the great God and the Saviour Jesus 
Christ," alone desired and expected. And 
truly, so great is that which we hope for at 
the glorious coining of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, that all the past^glory, and riches, 
and joys of this world, will be esteemed as 
if they had not been ; and those considered 
most unwise and unhappy, who in affairs of 
such importance, trusted rather to the 
foolish than to the wise. 



HITHERTO we have spoken on the pre 
cepts of dying well, taken from the three 
theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity; 
and also we have spoken on the three 
moral virtues, sobriety, justice, and piety, 
all of which the blessed apostle Paul recom 
mends to us. I will now add another pre- 


cept on the three good works, prayer, 
fasting, and almsdeeds, which we learn 
from the angel llaphael. We read in the 
book of Tobias, that the angel Raphael 
thus spoke : " Prayer is good with fasting 
and alms, more than to lay up treasures of 
go ld." (chap. xii. 8.) These three good 
works are the fruit of the virtues of religion, 
mercy, and temperance, which have a great 
affinity with piety, justice, and sobriety. 
For as piety regards God, justice our 
neighbour, and sobriety ourselves, so also 
prayer, which is an act of religion, regards 
God ; almsdeeds, which is an act of mercy, 
regards our neighbour ; and fasting, which 
is an act of abstinence, regards ourself. 
Of prayer may be written much, but ac 
cording to the nature of our treatise, we will 
only dwell on three points : the necessity 
of prayer; the advantage of it; and the 
method of praying with advantage. 

The necessity of prayer is so often in 
sisted upon in the Holy Scripture, that 
nothing is more clearly commanded than 
this duty. For although the Almighty 
knoweth what we stand in need of, as 
our Lord himself tells us in St. Mat 
thew, yet He wishes that we should ask 
for what we require, and by prayer lay 
hold of it, as if by spiritual hands or some 
suitable instrument. Hear our Lord in 
St. Luke : " That we ought always to 
pray, and not to faint;" and also, " Watch 
ye therefore, praying at all times." (chap. 


xyiii. and xxi.) Hear the apostle : " Pray 
without ceasing," and Ecclesiasticus, 
" Let nothing hinder thee from praying 
always." (xviii.) 

These precepts do not signify that we 
should do nothing else, but only that we 
should never forget so wholesome an exer 
cise, and should frequently make use of it. 
This is what our Lord and his apostles 
have taught us, for they did not always pray 
in such a manner as to neglect preaching 
to the people, and confirming their words by 
signs and wonders; and yet it might be 
said they always were praying, because 
they prayed very frequently. In this sense 
must be understood these words: "My 
eyes are ever towards the Lord ;" and also, 
" His praise shall always be in my mouth ;" 
and the words concerning the apostle, 
"And they were always in the temple, 
praising and blessing God." 

But the " fruits" of prayer are three 
especial advantages ; merit, satisfaction, 
and impetration. On the merit of prayer we 
have the testimony of Christ himself in the 
gospel: !t And when ye pray, you shall 
not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand 
and pray in the synagogues and corners of 
the streets, that they may be seen by men. 
Amen, I say to you, they have received 
their reward. But tliou, when thou shalt 
pray, enter into thy chamber, and having 
shut the doors, pray to thy Father in secret, 
and thy Father who seeth in secret .will 


repay thee." (St. Matthew, vi. 5, 6.) By 
these words our Lord does not forbid us 
praying in a public place, for He himself 

S-ayed publicly before he raised Lazarus, 
ut He forbids public prayer when it is 
done that we may be seen praying by 
many, and this through vain-dory : other 
wise we may pray in ithe temple, and there 
find a " chamber" for our heart, and in it 
pray to God "in secret," The words "will 
repay thee," signify the merit ; for, as He 
said of the Pharisee, " he has received his 
reward," that is, human praise ; so of one 
who prays in the chamber of his heart, and 
who looks to God alone, we must under 
stand that to him will be given a reward 
by his Father "who seeth in secret." 
Respecting satisfaction for past sins, we all 
know the practice of the Church, by which 
when satisfaction is enjoined, prayer is 
united with fasting and almsdeeds; nay, 
very often almsdeeds and fasting are omit 
ted, and prayer alone commanded. 

In fine, that prayer can obtain many 
gifts, St. John Chrysostom beautifully 
teaches us in his " two books" on Prayer, 
in which he employs the comparison of the 
human hands. For as man is born naked 
and helpless, and in want of all things, and 
vet cannot complain of his Creator, because 
He has given him hands, which are the 
organ of organs, and by which he is ena 
bled to provide for himself food, garments, 
house, &c. ; so also the spiritual man can 


do nothing without the divine .assistance; 
but he possesses the power of prayer, the 
organ of all spiritual organs, whereby he 
can easily provide for himself all things. 

Besides these three primary advantages 
of prayer, there are also many others. For, 
in the first place, prayer enlightens the 
mind ; man cannot directly fix the eye of his 
soul upon God, who is the light, without 
being enlightened by Him. " Come ye to 
him and be enlightened/ saith David. 
Secondly, prayer nourishes our hope and 
confidence ; for the oftener we speak with 
another, the more confidently do we ap 
proach to him. Thirdly, it inflames our 
charity, and makes our soul more capable 
of receiving greater gifts, as St. Augustine 
affirms. Fourthly, it increases humility 
and chaste fear, for he who goes to prayer, 
acknowledges that he is a beggar before 
God, and therefore humbles himself before 
Him, and is most careful not to offend 
Him, of whose assistance he stands in need 
in everything. Fifthly, prayer produces in 
our mind a contempt of all earthly goods ; 
for all temporal objects must appear mean 
and contemptible in the eyes of him who 
continually meditates on things spiritual 
and eternal.* Sixthly, prayer gives us 
incredible delight, since by it we begin to 
taste how sweet is the Lord. And how 
great this sweetness is, we may understand 

* See St. Augustine, (Lib. ix. Confess.) 


from this circumstance alone, that some 
I have known pass not only nights, but 
even whole days and nights in prayer, with 
out any trouble or inconvenience. In fine, 
besides the utility and the pleasure, prayer 
also adds dignity and honour to us. For 
even the angels themselves honour that 
soul which they see is so often and so 
familiarly admitted, to speak with the divine 

We will now speak on the method of 
praying well, in which chiefly consists the 
Art of living well, and consequently the Art 
of dying well. For what our Lord says, 
" Ask and it shall be given to you, for 
every one that asketh, receiveth;" St. 
James, in his epistle, declares it to be 
understood with the condition, if we ask 
properly. " You ask and receive not, 
because you ask amiss." (chap, iv.) We 
may reason then as follows : lie who pro 
perly asks for the gift of living well, will 
doubtless receive it; and he who properly 
asks for perseverance in a good life until 
death, and by this a happy death also, will 
certainly obtain it. We will, therefore, 
briefly explain the conditions of prayer, that 
so we may learn how to pray well, live well, 
and die well. 

The first condition is faith, according to 
the words of the apostle, " How then shall 
they call upon him, in whom they have not 
believed? * and with this St. James agrees, 
" Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." 


But this necessity of faith is not so to be 
understood, as if it were necessary to be 
lieve that God would certainly grant what 
we ask, for thus our faith would often prove 
false, and we should therefore obtain nothing. 
We must believe, then, that God is most 
powerful, most wise, most High, and most 
faithful; and therefore that He knows, 
and that He can and is prepared to do what 
we beg, of Him, if He shall think proper, 
and it be expedient for us to receive what 
we ask. This faith Christ required of the 
two blind men who desired to be cured; 
"Do you believe, that I can do this unto 
you?" With the same faith did David 
pray for his sick son ; for his words prove, 
that he believed not for certain that God 
would grant his request, but only that He 
could grant it; "Who knoweth whether 
the Lord may not give him to me, and the 
child may live?" It cannot be doubted 
but that with the same faith the apostle 
Paul prayed to be delivered from the sting 
of the flesh," since he prayed with faith, 
and his faith would have been false if he 
believed that God would certainly grant 
what at that tinie he asked ; for he did not 
then obtain his request. And with the 
same faith does the Church pray, that all 
heretics, pagans, schismatics, and bad 
Christians may be converted to penance ; 
and yet it is certain they are not all con 
verted. Concerning which matter consult 


St. Prosper in his books " On the Vocation 
of the Gentiles." 

Another condition of prayer, and that a 
very necessary one, is hope or confidence. 
For although we must not by faith, which 
is a work of the understanding, imagine 
that God will certainly grant our requests, 
yet by hope, which is an act of the will, we 
may firmly rely upon the divine goodness, 
and certainly hope that God will give us 
what we ask for. This condition our 
Lord required of the paralytic, to whom He 
said, " Be of good heart, son, thy sins are 
forgiven thee." The same the apostle re 
quires of all, when he says, " Let us go 
therefore with confidence to the throne of 
grace ;" and long before him, the prophet 
thus introduces God, saying, " Because he 
hath hoped in me, I will deliver him." But 
because hope springs from perfect faith, 
therefore when the Scripture requires faith 
in great things, it adds something regard 
ing hope ; hence we read in St. Mark, 
" Amen I say to you, that whosoever shall 
say to this mountain, Be thou removed and 
be cast into the sea, and shall not stagger 
in his heart, but believe that whatsoever he 
saith shall be done ; it shall be done unto 
him : " of which faith producing confidence, 
are to be understood the words of the apos 
tle ; " If I should have all faith, so that I 
could remove mountains/ <fcc. Hence, 
John Cassian writes in his Treatise on 
Prayer, that it is a certain sign of our re- 


quest being granted, when in^ prayer we 
hope that God will certainly give us what 
we ask ; and when in our petitions we do 
not in any way hesitate, but pour forth in 
prayers with spiritual joy. 

A third condition is charity or justice, by 
which we are delivered from our sins ; for 
none but the friends of God obtain the gifts 
of God. Thus David speaks in the Psalms: 
" The eyes of the Lord are upon the just ; 
and his ears unto their prayers:" and in 
another place, " If I have looked at iniquity 
in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. 
Aiid in the New Testament our Lord him 
self says : " If you abide in me, and my 
words (precepts) abide in you, _ you shall 
ask whatsoever you will, and it shall be 
done unto you." And the beloved disciple 
saith: "Dearly beloved, if our heart do 
not reprehend us, we have confidence 
towards God : and whatsoever we shall 
ask, we shall receive of him ; because we 
keep his commandments, and do those 
things which are pleasing in his sight." 
(1 Epist. of St. John hi. 21, 22.) This is 
not contrary to the doctrine, that when the 
publican asked of God the forgiveness of 
his sins, he returned home "justified;" 
for a penitent sinner does not obtain 
his request as a sinner, but as a penitent; 
for as a sinner he is the enemy of God ; as 
a penitent, the friend of God. He that 
commits sin, does what is not pleasing unto 


God ; but he who repents of his sins, does 
what is most pleasing to Him. 

A fourth condition is humility, by which 
he that prays, confides not in his own jus 
tice, but in the goodness of God: "But 
to whom shall I have respect, but to him 
that is poor and little, and of a contrite 
spirit, and that tremblcth at my words?" 
(Isaias Ixvi. 2.) And Ecclesiasticus adds : 
" The prayer of him that humbleth himself, 
shall pierce the clouds : and till it come 
nigh he will not be comforted : and he 
will not depart till the Most High behold." 
(xxxv. 21.) 

A fifth condition is devotion, by which 
we pray not negligently, as many are ac 
customed to do, but with attention, earnest 
ness, diligence, and fervour: our Lord 
severely blames those who pray with their 
lips only; thus He speaks by Isaiah : "This 
people draw near me with their mouth, and 
with their lips glorify me ; but their heart 
is far from me." (xxix. 13.) This virtue 
springs from a lively faith, and consists not 
in habit alone, but in deed. ^ For he^ who 
attentively and with a firm faith considers 
how great is the Majesty of God, how great 
our nothingness, and how important those 
things are we ask for, cannot possibly help 
praying with the greatest humility, reve 
rence, devotion, and fervour. 

We shall here add powerful testimonies 
from two of the holy lathers. St. Jerome 
in his Dialogues against the Luciferians, 


Bays: " I commence prayer: I should not 
pray, if I did not believe ; but if I had true 
faith, this heart, which God sees, I would 
cleanse; I would strike my breast: I would 
water my cheeks with my tears : I would 
neglect all attention to my body and be 
come pale ; I would throw myself at the 
feet of my Lord, and wash them with my 
weeping, and wipe them with my hair : I 
would clasp the cross, and not depart be 
fore I had obtained mercy. Now most 
frequently during my prayers, I am walking 
either along the porticos, or am counting 
my usury ; or being carried away by evil 
thought," I entertain those things which it 
is shameful to speak of. Where is our 
faith ? Do we suppose that Jonas prayed 
thus ? The three children ? Daniel in the 
lions den ? Or the good thief on the 

St. Bernard, in his Sermon on the Four 
Methods of Praying, thus writes ^ "It 
especially behoves us, during the time of 
prayer, to enter the heavenly chamber 
that chamber I mean, in which the King of 
kings sittcth on his royal throne, sur 
rounded by an innumerable and glorious 
army of blessed spirits. With what reve 
rence then, with what fear, with what 
humility, ought dust and ashes to approach, 
we who are nothing but vile creeping 
insects! With what trembling, earnest 
ness, care, and solicitude, oii^ht miserable 
man to stand before the divine Majesty, 


in presence of the angels, in the assembly 
of the just? In all our actions then, we 
have much need of vigilance, especially in 

The sixth condition is perseverance, 
which our Lord in two parables has 
recommended in St. Luke ; the first is 
concerning him who went in the night to a 
friend to ask for the loan of two loaves ; 
who being refused because of the unseason 
able hour, yet by perseverance obtained his 
request. (St. Luke xi.) The second is con 
cerning the widow who besought the judge 
to free her from her adversary ; and the 
judge, although a very bad man, and one 
that feared neither God nor man, yet being 
overcome by the perseverance and impor 
tunity of the woman, he delivered her from 
her adversary. From these examples our 
Lord concludes, that much more ought we 
to persevere in prayer to God, because He 
is just and merciful. And, as St. James 
adds: "He giveth to all abundantly, and 
upbraideth not ;" that is, lie gives liberally 
to all who ask His gifts; and He " upbraid 
eth not" their importunity, should they be 
too troublesome in their importunities ; for 
God has no measure in His riches nor in 
His mercy. St. Augustine, in his expla 
nation of the last verse of Psalm Ixv. adds 
these words : " If thou shalt see that thy 
prayer is not rejected, thou art secure, 
because his mercy is not removed from 




ACCORDING to the order given by the 
angel, we will now briefly speak on fasting. 
Omitting many of the theological ques 
tions, we will confine ourselves only to our 
subject. Our intention is to explain the 
Art of living well, because this will prepare 
us for dying well. For this Art, three 
things seem sufficient, of which we have 
spoken above on prayer ; its necessity, its 
fruit, and the proper method. 

The necessity of fasting is two-fold, de 
rived from the divine and human law. Of 
the divine the prophet Joel speaks: "Be 
converted to me with your whole heart, in 
fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning." 
The same language does the prophet Jona 
use, who testifies that the Ninivites, in 
order to appease the anger of God, pro 
claimed a fast in sackcloth ; and yet, there 
was not then any positive law on fast 
ing. The same may be learnt from 
the words of our Lord in St. Matthew: 
" 13 at thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy 
head, and wash thy face, that thou appear 
not to men to fast, but to thy Father who 
is in secret : and thy Father who seeth in 
secret, will repay thce." (chap. vi. 17, 18.) 


We will add the words of one or two of 
the fathers. St. Augustine thus speaks in 
his Epistle to Casulanus: "In the gospels 
and epistles, and in the whole of the New 
Testament, I see fasting is a precept. But 
on certain days we are not commanded to 
fast ; and on what particular days we must, 
is not defined by our Lord or the apostles." 
St. Leo also says in his sermon on fasting : 
" Those which were figures of future things, 
have passed away, what they signified being 
accomplished. But the utility of fasting is 
not done away with in the New Testa 
ment ; but it is piously observed, that fast 
ing is always profitable both to the soul 
and body. And because the words, " Thou 
shalt adore the Lord thy God, and serve 
Him alone," &c., were given for the know 
ledge of christians ; so in the same ^scrip- 
ture, the precept concerning fasting is not 
without an interpretation." St. Leo does 
not here mean to say, that christians must 
fast at the same times the Jews were accus 
tomed to do. But the precept of fasting 
given to the Jews, is to be observed by 
christians according to the determination 
of the pastors of the church, as to time and 
manner. What this is, all know; and 
therefore it is unnecessary for me to men 
tion it. 

The fruit and advantages of fasting can 
easily be proved. And first; fasting is 
most useful in preparing ^the soul for 
prayer, and the contemplation of divine 


things, as the angel Raphael saith : 
" Prayer is good with fasting." Thus 
Moses for forty clays prepared his soul by 
fasting, before he presumed to speak with 
God : so Elias fasted forty days, that thus 
he might be able, as far as human nature 
would permit, to hold converse with God : 
so Daniel, by a fast of three weeks, was 
prepared for receiving the revelations of 
God : so the Church has appointed " fasts" 
on the vigil of great festivals, that chris- 
tians might be more fit for celebrating the 
divine solemnities. The holy fathers also 
every where speak of the utility of fasting. * 
I cannot forbear quoting the words of St. 
Chrysostom : " Fasting is the support of 
our soul: it gives us wings to ascend on 
high, and to enjoy the highest contempla 
tion. ! 

Another advantage of fasting is, that it 
tames the flesh ; and such a fast must be 
particularly pleasing to God, because He 
is pleased when we crucify the flesh with 
its vices and concupiscences, as St. Paul 
teaches us in his Epistle to the Galatians ; 
and for this reason he says himself: "But I 
chastise my body, and bring it into subjec 
tion : lest perhaps, when I have preached to 
others, I myself should become a cast 
away." (1 to Cor. ix. 27.) St. Chrysostom 

* Seo St. Athanasius, Lib. de Virjjiiiitate. St. Basil, de 
Jejunio. St. Ambrose, de L liu ct Jejuuio. St. Bernard, ill 
tjorinoae de Vigilia Santi Andrea.-, &c. 
f Homily in Genesis. 


expounds these words of fasting; and so 
also do Theophylact and St. Ambrose. 
And of the advantages of it in this respect, 
St. Cyprian, St. Basil, St. Jerome, and 
St. Augustine, and in the office for Prime 
the whole Church sings, " Carnis terat 
superbiam potus cibique Parcitas." 

Another advantage is, that we honour 
God by our fasts, because when we fast for 
His sake, we honour Him : thus the apostle 
Paul speaks in his Epistle to the Romans : 
" I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the 
mercy of God, that you present your bodies 
a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, 
your reasonable service/ (chap, xii.) In 
the Greek, "reasonable service," is, rea 
sonable worship: and of this worship 
St. Luke speaks, when mentioning the 
prophetess Anna : " And she was a widow 
until fourscore and four years; who departed 
not from the temple, by fastings and 
prayers serving night and day." (chap. ii. 
37.) The great Council of Nice in the V. 
Canon, calls the fast of Lent, "a clean and 
solemn gift, offered by the Church to 
God." In the same manner doth Tertul- 
lian speak in his book on the "Resurrec 
tion of the Flesh," where he calls dry, 
unsavoury food taken late, " sacrifices 
pleasing to God:" and St. Leo, in his 
second sermon on fasting saith, " For the 
sur,e reception of all its fruits, the sacrifice 

* Moderation in food and drink, tames the pride of tho 


of abstinence is most worthily offered to 
God, the giver of them all." 

A fourth advantage fasting hath, is 
being a satisfaction for sin. Many exam 
ples in holy Writ prove this. The Niniyites 
appeased God by fasting, as Jonas testifies. 
The Jews did the same; for by fasting 
with Samuel they appeased God, and 
gained the victory over their enemies. 
The wicked king Achab, by fasting and 
sackcloth, partly satisfied God. In the 
times of Judith and Esther, the Hebrews 
obtained mercy from God by no other sacri 
fice than that of fasting, weeping, and 
mourning. This is also the constant doc 
trine of the holy fathers : Tertullian says : 
" As we relrain from the use of food, so 
our fasting satisfies God." : St. Cyprian: 
" Let us appease the anger of an offended 
God, by fasting and weeping, as he admo 
nishes us. "t St. Basil: "Penance, with 
out fasting, is useless and vain ; by fasting 
satisfy God."J St. Chrysostom: "God, 
like an indulgent father, offers us a cure 
by fasting." St. Ambrose also says: 
"Fasting is the death of sin, the destruc 
tion of our crimes, and the remedy of our 
salvation." St. Jerome, in his Commen 
tary on the third chapter of Jonas, re 
marks: "Fasting and sackcloth are the 
arms of penance, the help of sinners." St. 

* De Jejunio. t De Lapsis. 

J DC Jejuiiio. 


Austin likewise says : " No one fasts for 
human praise, but for the pardon of his 
sins." Bo also St. Bernard in his 6Gth 
Sermon on the Canticles : " I often fast, 
and my fasting is a satisfaction for sin, not 
a superstition for impiety." 

Lastly, fasting is meritorious, and is 
very powerful in obtaining divine favours. 
Anna, the wife of Eleanor, although she 
was barren, deserved by fasting to have a 
son. So St. Jerome, in his second book 
against Jovinian, thus interprets these 
words of Scripture: "She wept and did 
not take food, and thus Anna by her absti 
nence deserved to bring forth a son." 
Sara, by a three days fast, was delivered 
from a devil, as we read in the book of To 
bias. But there is a remarkable passage 
in the Gospel of St. Matthew on fasting: 
" But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy 
head and wash thy face. That thou appear 
not to men to fast, but to thy Father who 
is in secret : and thy Father who seeth in 
secret, will repay thee." (chap. yi. 17, 18.) 
The words "will repay thee," signify will 
give thee a reward ; for they are opposed to 
these other words, "For they disfigure 
their faces, that they may appear to men 
to fast. Amen, I say to you. that they 
have received their reward." Wherefore, 
hypocrites by their fasting, receive their re 
ward, that is, human praise: the just by 
fasting receive their reward also, the divine 
praise. Many are the testimonies of the 


holy Fathers on this point. When St. 
John was about to write his gospel, he un 
derwent a solemn fast, that he might de 
serve to receive the grace of writing well, 
as St. Jerome tells us in his preface to his 
commentary on St. Matthew ; and Vene 
rable Bede is also of the same opinion. 
Tertullian says : " Fasting obtains of God 
a knowledge even of His mysteries." St. 
Ambrose, St. Athanasius, St. Gregory 
Nazianzen, St. Chryspstom, St. Jerome, 
and St. A.ugustine, might also be quoted 
on the subject. 

Here then w r e have seen the necessity 
and the fruit of fasting : I will now briefly 
explain the manner in which we must fast, 
that so our fasting may be useful in 
enabling us to lead a good life, and by this 
means to die a good death. Many fast on 
all the days appointed by the Church, viz : 
the vigils, the ember-days, and Lent : and 
some fast of their own accord in Advent 
also, that they may piously prepare them 
selves for the nativity of our Lord ; or on 
Friday, in memory of our Lord s passion; 
or on Saturday, in honour of the Blessed 
Virgin Mother of God. But whether they 
so fast as to derive advantages from it, may 
be reasonably questioned. The chief end 
of fasting, is the mortification of the flesh, 
that the spirit may be more strengthened. 
For this purpose, we must use only spare 
and unsavoury diet. And this our mother 
the Church points out since she commands 


us to take only one " full" meal in the day, 
and then not to eat flesh or white meats, 
hut only herbs or fhiit. This, Tertullian 
expresses by two words, in his book on the 
" Resurrection of the Fle-h," where he calls 
the food of^those that fast, " late and dry 
meats." Now, those dp not certainly ob 
serve this, who, on their fasting-days, eat 
as much in one meal, as they do on other 
days, at their dinner and supper together : 
and who, at that one meal, prepare so 
many dishes of different fishes and other 
things to please their palate, that it seems 
to be a dinner intended, not for weepers 
and fasters, but for a nuptial banquet that 
is to continue throughout most of the 
night ! Those who fast thus, do not 
certainly derive the least fruit from their 

Nor do those derive any fruit who, al 
though they may eat more moderately, yet 
on fasting-days do not abstain from games, 
parties, quarrels, dissensions, lascivious 
songs, and immoderate laughter ; and what 
is still worse, commit the same crimes as 
they would on ordinary days. Hear what 
the prophet Isaiah says of such kind of peo 
ple : " Behold in the day of your fast your 
own will is found, and you exact of all your 
debtors. Behold you fast for debates and 
strife, and strike with the fist wickedly. 
Do not fast as you have done until this 
day, to make your cry to be heard on. 
high." (chap. Iviii.) Thus does the Al- 


mighty blame the Jews, because on the 
days of their fasting, which were days of 
penance, they wished to do their own will 
and not the will of God ; because they were 
not only not willing to forgive their debtors, 
(as they prayed to be forgiven by God.) but 
they would not even give them any time to 
collect their money. They also spent that 
time which ought to have been devoted to 
prayer, in profane quarrels, and even in 
contentions. In fine, so far were they from 
attending to spiritual things, as they ought 
to have done on the fasting-days, they 
added sin to sin, and impiously attacked 
their neighbours. These and other such 
sins ought those pious people to avoid, who 
wish their fasting to be pleasing unto God, 
and useful to themselves: they may then 
hope to live well, and die a holy death. 

There now remain " almsdeeds," one 
of the three good works recommended to 
our imitation by the angel Raphael. 



THREE things are to be explained con 
cerning ahnsdeeds ; its necessity, advan 
tages, and the method. 


And first, no one has ever doubted of 
almsdeeds being commanded in Holy 
Writ. Sufficient is the sentence of the 
just and supreme Judge, (even supposing 
we had nothing else,) which he will pro 
nounce against the wicked at the last day : 
" Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlast 
ing fire which was prepared for the devil 
and his angels. For I was hungry, and 
you gave me not to eat : I was thirsty, and 
you gave me not to drink. I was a 
stranger, and you took me not in ; naked, 
and you covered me not : sick and in prison, 
and you did not visit me:" and a little 
lower : " Amen, I say to you, as long as 
you did it not to one of these least, neither 
did you do it to me." (St. Matthew xxv.) 
From these words we may conclude, that 
those only are bound to give alms, who 
have the means of doing so : for even our 
Lord is not said to have done these works, 
but only to have ordered, out of the money 
that was given to him, a part to be distri 
buted to the poor. Hence, when our Lord 
said to Judas, " That which thou dost, do 
quickly," the disciples supposed that our 
Lord commanded Judas to give some 
thing to the poor out of the common purse. 
But some theologians suppose the precept 
of almsdeeds is contained in the com 
mand, "Honour thy parents:" others in 
the command, " Thou shalt not kill." 
But it is not requisite for this precept to be 
contained m the decalogue, since alms- 


deeds relate to charity ; the precepts of the 
decalogue are precepts of justice. But if 
all the precepts of morality are to Jbe re 
ferred to the decalogue, the opinion of 
Albert Magnus is probable that the pre 
cept concerning alms, is to be referred to 
the command, " Thou shalt not steal," be 
cause it seems a kind of theft not to give to 
the poor what we ought. But the opinion 
of St. Thomas seems to be more probable, 
who reduces it to the command, " Honour 
thy parents. * By the word honour, is not 
here understood "reverence" alone, but 
particularly the supply of things necessary 
for existence, which is a kind of alms that 
we owe to our neighbours especially, as St. 
Jerome remarks in his commentary on the 
xxv. chapter of St. Matthew. From this 
we may see, that alms ought to be given to 
others also, who may be in want. More 
over, the precept is not negative, but posi 
tive; and amongst the precepts of the 
second table, none are positive except the 
first, " Honour thy parents." 

So much on the necessity of alms. 

But the fruits are most abundant. First, 
Almsdecds free the soul from eternal 
death, whether this be in the way of satis 
faction, or a disposition to receive grace, or 
in any other way. This doctrine the sacred 
Scriptures plainly teach ; in the book of 
Tobias we thus read : " For alms deliver 
from all sin and from death, and will not 
suffer the soul to go into darkness;" and 


in the same book the angel Raphael says, 
" For alms deliyereth from death, and the 
same is that which purgeth away sins, and 
maketh to find mercy and life everlasting. 5 
And Daniel said to Nabuchodonoser : 
"Wherefore, king, let my counsel be 
acceptable to thee, and redeem thou. thy 
sins with alms, and thy iniquities with 
works of mercy to the poor, perhaps he will 
forgive thy offences." (chap, iv.) 

Alms also, if they be given by a just 
man, and with true charity, are meritorious 
of eternal life : to this the Judge of the living 
and the dead beareth witness : " Come ye 
blessed of my Father, possess you the 
kingdom prepared for you from the founda 
tion of the world. For I was hungry, and 
you gave me to eat," &c. And he answer 
ed: " Amen, I say to you, as long as you 
did it to one of these my least brethren, 
you did it to me." (St. Matthew xxv.) 

Thirdly, almsdeeds are, as it were, like 
baptism, because they do away both with 
the sin and the punishment thereof, accord- 
ino- to the words of Ecclesiasticus : 
"Water quencheth a flaming fire, and 
alms resisteth sins." (chap, iii.) Water 
entirely extinguishes fire, so that not 
even any smoke remains. That almsdeeds 
are of this nature, many holy fathers 
teach, as St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. 
Chrysostom, St. Leo, whose words it is 
unnecessary to quote. Such, then, is one 
great advantage, which ought to enflamo 


all men with a love of almsdeeds. But 
this must not be understood of every kind, 
but only of that which proceeds from great 
contrition and ardent charity. Such was 
that of St. Mary Magdalen, who, with tears 
of true contrition, washed the feet of our 
Lord ; and having purchased most pre 
cious ointment, she anointed His feet 
with it. 

Fourthly, Almsdeeds increase confi 
dence with God, and produce spiritual joy ; 
for, although this is common to other good 
works also, yet it belongs in particular to 
almsdeeds, since by them we render a ser 
vice grateful both to God and our neigh 
bours: and this is a work which is not 
obscurely, but most plainly acknowledged 
to be "good." Hence the word of Tobias: 
"Alms shall be a great confidence before 
the Most High God, to all them that give 
it." (chap. iv. 12.) And the apostle, in his 
Epistle to the Hebrews, says: " l)o not 
therefore lose your confidence, which hath 
a great reward." (chap. x. 35.) In fine, 
St. Cyprian, in his Sermon on Aims- 
deeds, calls it, " The great comfort of be 

Fifthly, Almsdeeds conciliate the good 
will of many, who pray to God for their 
benefactors, and obtain for them either tho 
grace of conversion, or the gift of perseve 
rance, or an increase of merit and glory. 
And in all these ways may be understood 
these words of our Lord : "Make unto you 



friends of the mammon of iniquity, that 
when you shall fail they may receive 
you into everlasting dwellings." (St. Luke 
xv.i. 9.) 

Sixthly, Almsdeeds is a disposition for 
receiving justifying grace. Of this fruit 
Solomon speaks in the Proverbs, where he 
says: " By mercy and faith sins are purged 
away." And when our Lord had heard 
the liberality of Zaccheus, saying: "Be 
hold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to 
the poor: and if I have wronged any man 
of anything, I restore him four-fold." lie 
said: " This day is salvation come to this 
house." (St. Luke xix.) In fine, we read 
in the Acts of the Apostles that it was said 
to Cornelius, who was not yet a Christian, 
but who gave large alms : " Thy prayers 
and thy alms are ascended for a memorial 
in the sight of God." (chap, x.) From this 
place St. Augustine proves, that Cornelius 
by his alms obtained from God the grace 
of faith and perfect justification. 

Lastly, Almsdeeds are often instrumental 
in increasing our temporal goods. This 
the wise man affirms where he says : 
" lie that hath mercy on the poor, lendeth 
to the Lord ;" and again : " He that 
giveth to the poor shall not want." Our 
Lord has taught us this truth by His 
own example, when He ordered His disci 
ples, who possessed only the five loaves and 
the two fishes, to distribute them to the 
poor : in return they received twelve bas- 


kets-full of the fragments, which served 
them for many days. Tobias also, who 
liberally distributed his goods to the poor, 
in a short time obtained great riches ; and 
the widow of Sarephta, who gave to Elias 
only a handful of meal and a little oil, 
obtained from God by this act of charity an 
abundance of meal and oil, which for a long 
time did not fail. Many other remarkable 
examples may be read in St. Gregory of 
Tours, in the 5th Book of his History of 
France; and in Leontius, in his Life of 
St. John the Almoner ; and Sophronms, in 
his Spiritual Meadow. The same doth St. 
Cyprian confirm in his Sermon on Alms- 
deeds, and St. Basil in his Oration to the 
Rich, in which, by an elegant similitude, 
he compares riches to water in wells, that 
gushes forth the purer and more copiously 
the oftener it is drawn out ; but if it should 
remain stagnant, it soon becomes putrid. 
These things covetous rich men will not 
willingly hear, and scarcely will believe ; 
but after this life they will understand them 
and believe them to be true, when such 
faith and knowledge will be ot no avail to 
them. . -. 

We will now dwell a little on the method 
of giving alms ; for this is especially neces 
sary, that we may live well and die a most 
happy death. First, then, we must give 
our alms with the pure intention ot pleasing 
God, and not of obtaining human praise. 
This our Lord teaches us when He says: 


" Therefore, when them dost an almsdeed, 

sound not a trumpet before thee, &c.... 

Let not thy left hand know what thy right 
hand doth." (St. Matthew vi.) St. Augus 
tine, in his Explanation of St. John s Epis 
tle, expounds the passage thus : " By the 
left hand is meant the intention of giving 
alms for worldly honour or any other tem 
poral advantage ; by the right Jiand is sig 
nified the intention of bestowing alms to 
gain eternal life, or for the glory of God, 
and charity for our neighbour. 

Secondly, Our alms should be given 
promptly and willingly, so that they may 
not seem to be extorted through entrea 
ties, nor deferred from day to day, if possi 
ble. The wise man saith: "Say not to thy 
friend : Go, and come again ; and to-mor 
row I will give to thee: when thou canst give 
at present." (Proverbs iii. 28.) Abraham, 
the friend of God, requested the angels to 
take up their abode with him : he did not 
wait to be asked : so also did Lot do the 
same. And we read that Tobias did not 
wait for the poor to come to him, but he 
sought them himself. 

]L hirdly, We should give our alms with 
joy, not with sadness. Ecclesiasticus saith : 
"In every gift show a cheerful counte 
nance ;" and St. Paul : " Every one as he 
hath determined in his heart, not with sad 
ness, or of necessity: for God loveth a 
cheerful giver." (2 Epist. to Corinth, ix. 7.) 

.Fourthly, Our alms should be given 


with humility, that so the rich man may 
remember that he receives much more than 
he gives. On this point St. Gregory thus 
speaks : "When he gives earthly goods, he 
would find it avail much in taming his 
pride, were he to remember and carefully 
ponder on the words of his heavenly Mas 
ter : Make unto you friends of the mam 
mon of iniquity, that when you ^shall fail 
they may receive you into everlasting dwel 
lings/ If by their friendship we purchase 
everlasting dwellings, those that give 
should doubtless remember that they offer 
their gifts rather to patrons than to the 
poor/ "" 

Fifthly, Our alms should be given 
abundantly, in proportion to our means: 
thus doth Tobias teach us that most ge 
nerous alms-giver : " According to thy 
ability be merciful. If thou have much, 
give abundantly : if thou have little, take 
care even so to bestow willingly a little, 
(chap. iv. 9.) And the apostle teaches that 
alms are to be given to obtain a benedic 
tion, and not with avarice. St. John Chry- 
sostom adds : " Not merely to give, ^but to 
give abundantly, is almsdeeds. Ami in 
the same sermon he says again: Inat 
those who wish to be heard bybod when 
they say, Have mercy on me, O God, ac 
cording to thy great mercy, ought to have 

* (Lib, Moral, xxi. cap. 14.) 


mercy on the poor themselves, according to 
their means." 

Lastly, It is necessary above all things, 
if we wish to be saved and to die a good 
death, diligently to enquire, either by our 
own reading and meditation, or by consult 
ing holy and learned men, whether our 
"superfluous" riches can be retained with 
out sin, orwhether we ought of necessity to 
give them to the poor; and again, what are 
to be understood by superfluities, and what 
by necessary goods. It may happen that 
to some men moderate riches may be super 
fluous; whilst to others great riches may 
be absolutely essential. But, since this 
treatise does not include nor require tedious 
scholastic questions, I will briefly note pas 
sages from Holy Writ and the Fathers, and 
so end this part of the subject. The pas 
sages of Scripture : " You cannot serve 
both God and mammon ." " He that hath 
two coats, let him give to him that hath 
none ; and he that hath meat, let him do in 
like manner." And in the 12th chapter 
of St. Luke it is said of one who had such 
great riches, that he scarcely knew what to 
do with them : " Thou fool, this night do 
they require thy soul of thee." St. Augus 
tine, in the 50th book of his Homilies, and 
the 7th Homily, explains these words to 
mean, that the rich man perished for ever, 
because he made no use of his superfluous 

The passages from the Fathers are 


chiefly these : St. Basil, in his Sermon to 
the Kich, thus speaks : " And thou, art 
thon not a robber, because what thou hast 
received to be given away, thou supposest 
to be thy own?" And a little farther he 
continues: " Wherefore, as much as thou 
art able to give, so much dost thou injure 
the poor." And St. Ambrose, in his 81st 
Sermon, says: "What injustice do I com 
mit, if, whilst I do not steal the goods of 
others, I keep diligently what is my own? 
impudent word ! Dost thou say thy 
own ? What is this ? It is no less a crime 
to steal than it is not to give to the poor 
out of thy abundance." St. Jerome thus 
writes in his Epistle to Hedibias: " If you 
possess more than is necessary for your 
subsistence, give it away, and thus you will 
be a creditor." St. John Chrysostom says 
in his 34th Homily to the people of An- 
tioch: "Do you possess anything of your 
own ? The interest of the poor is entrust 
ed to you, whether the estate is yours by 
your own just labours, or you have acquired 
it by inheritance." St. Augustine, in his 
Tract on the 147th Psalm: " Our super 
fluous wealth belongs to the poor ; when it 
is not given to them, we possess what we 
have no right to retain. St. Leo thus 
speaks : " Temporal goods ore given to us 
by the liberality of God, and He will de 
mand an account of them, for they were 
committed to us for disposal as well as pos 
session." And St. Gregory, in the third part 


of his Pastoral Care : " Those are to be 
admonished, who, whilst they desire not 
the goods of others, do not distribute their 
own; that so they may carefully remember, 
that as the common origin of all men is 
from the earth, so also its produce is com 
mon to them all : in vain, then, they think 
themselves innocent, who appropriate to 
themselves the common gifts of God." St. 
Bernard, in his Epistle to Henry, arch 
bishop of Sens, saith : " It is ours, for 
the poor cry out for what you squander ; 
you cruelly take away from us what you 
spend foolishly." St. Thomas also writes: 
" The superfluous riches which many pos 
sess, by the natural law belong to the sup 
port of the poor ;" and again : " The Lord 
requires us to give to the poor not only 
the tenth part, but all of our superfluous 
wealth." In fine, the same author, in the 
fourth book of his " Sentences," asserts 
that this is the common opinion of all theo 
logians. I add also, that if one be inclined 
to contend that, taking the strict letter of 
the law, he is not bound to give his super 
fluous riches to the poor ; he is obliged to 
do so, at least by the law of charity. It 
matters little whether we are condemned to 
hell through want of justice or of charity. 




HAVING now explained the principal vir 
tues which teach us how " to live well/ I 
shall add some remarks on the Sacraments, 
which, no less than the former, instruct us 
in this most necessary Art. There are 
seven Sacraments instituted by Christ our 
Lord : baptism, confirmation, holy Eucha 
rist, penance, holy orders, matrimony, and 
extreme unction. These are the divine in 
struments, as it were, which God uses by 
the ministry of his servants, to preserve, or 
increase, or restore His grace to us; that so 
being freed from the servitude of the 
devil, and translated to the dignity of the 
" Sons of God," we may one day arrive at 
eternal happiness with the holy angels. 
From these holy Sacraments, therefore, it 
is our intention briefly to show who are 
they that advance in the " Art of living 
well," and who fail in it. We may then 
know who can hope for a happy death ; and 
who, on the contrary, may expect a mise 
rable one, unless he change his life. 

Let us begin with the first Sacrament. 
Baptism, being the first, is justly called the 
"gate" of the Sacraments, because, unless 


baptism precede them, no one is in a state 
to receive the other Sacraments. In bap 
tism the following ceremonies are observed. 
First of all, he who is to be baptized ought 
to make a profession of his belief in the 
Catholic faith, either by himself or by 
another. Secondly, he is called upon to 
renounce the devil, and all his works and 
pomps. Thirdly, he is baptized in Christ, 
and thus translated from the bondage of 
the devil to the dignity of a son of God ; 
and all his sins being washed away, he re 
ceives the gift of divine grace, by which he 
becomes the adopted son of God, an heir of 
God, and co-heir with Christ. Fourthly, 
a white garment is placed on him, and he 
is exhorted to keep it pure and undenled 
till death. Fifthly, a lighted candle is put 
into his hand, which signifies good works, 
and which he ought to add for innocence 
of life as long as he lives. Thus our Lord 
speaks in the Gospel : "So let your light 
shine before men, that they may see your 
good works, and glorify your Father who is 
in heaven." (St. Matthew v. 1C.) 

These are the principal ceremonies which 
the Church uses in the administration of 
baptism; I omit others which do not relate 
to our purpose. From these observa 
tions, each one of us may easily discover 
whether we have led a good life from our 
Baptism until now. But I strongly suspect 
that few are to be found who have fulfilled 
all those things which they promised to do, 


Or which they ought to have done. " Many 
are called, but few are chosen ;" and again, 
" Narrow is the gate, and straight is the 
way that leadeth to life, and few there are 
that find it." 

We will begin with the Apostles Creed. 
How many of the country people and 
lower orders either do not remember this, 
or have never learnt it, or only know 
the words of it, but not the sense ! And 
yet at their baptism they answered by their 
sponsors that they believed in every Article. 
But if Christ is to dwell in our hearts by 
faith, as the apostle saith, how can He dwell 
in the hearts of those who can scarcely re 
peat the Creed, and much less have it in 
their hearts ? And if God by faith " puri 
fies" our hearts, as St. Peter speaks, how 
base will the hearts of those be, who have 
not in them the faith of Christ, although 
they have received baptism outwardly ! I 
am speaking of adults not of infants. In 
fants are justified by possessing grace, 
faith, hope, and charity ; but when they 
grow to maturity, they ought to learn the 
Creed, and believe in their heart the Chris 
tian faith "unto justice," and confess it 
with the mouth "unto salvation," as the 
Apostle most plainly teaches us in his Epis 
tle to the Romans. 

Again: all Christians are asked, either 
by themselves or by their sponsors, whether 
they renounce the devil, and all his works 
and pomps. And they answer: " I do re- 


nounce them." But how many renounce 
them in word, but not in reality ! On the 
other hand, how few are there who do not 
love and follow the pomps and works of the 
devil ! But God seeth all things, and will 
not be mocked. He therefore that desires 
to live well and to die well, let him enter 
into the chamber of his heart, and not de 
ceive himself; but seriously and attentively 
consider over and over again whether he is 
ill love with the pomps of this world, or with 
sins, which are the works of the devil ; and 
whether he gives them a place in his heart, 
and in his words and actions. And thus, 
either his good conscience will console him, 
or his evil conscience will lead him to pen 

In the other rite is manifested to us the 
goodness of God in so sublime and wonder 
ful a manner, that, were we to spend whole 
days and nights in admiration and thanks 
giving for it, we should do nothing worthy 
of so great a benefit. good Lord ! who 
can understand, who is not amazed, who 
does not wholly dissolve into pious tears 
when he considers how man, justly con 
demned to hell, is suddenly by means of 
Baptism translated from a miserable capti 
vity to a right in a most glorious kingdom ! 
But how much the greater this benefit is to 
be admired, so much the more is man s 
ingratitude to be detested ; since many, 
scarcely before they arrive at the age of 
reason, begin to renounce this wonderful 


benefit of God, and to enrol themselves the 
slaves of the devil. For what else is it to 
follow in our youth " the concupiscence of 
the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and 
the pride of life," but to enter into friend 
ship with the devil, and to deny Christ our 
Lord in deed and in word? Few is the 
number of those, who, prevented by a spe 
cial grace of God, carefully preserve their 
baptismal grace, and, as the prophet Jere- 
mias expresses it, have borne the yoke of 
the Lord "from their youth I" But unless 
we preserve either our baptismal grace, or 
by true penance again renounce the devil, 
and return to the service of God, and per 
severe in it till the end of our life, we cannot 
possibly live well, nor be delivered from a 
miserable death. 

The fourth ceremony is, when the bap 
tized receives the white garment, and is or 
dered to wear it until he shall appear before 
God. By this rite is signified " innocence 
of life," which acquired by the grace of 
Baptism, is most carefully to be preserved 
until death. But who can number the 
snares of the devil, that perpetual enemy of 
the human race, who desires nothing more 
than to disfigure that garment with every 
kind of stain? Very lew, therefore, are 
there, who if they live long, do not contract 
stains of sin ; holy David calls those blessed 
who are " undefined" in their way. But 
the more difficult it is to walk undefiled in 
a defiled way, so much the more glorious 


will be the crown of an innocent life. All 
therefore, who desire to live well and to die 
well, must be careful to preserve to the very 
best of their power the white garment. 
But if it should contract some stains, we 
must wash it often in the blood of the 
Lamb ; and this is done by true contrition 
and penitential tears. When David had 
bewailed his sin for a long time, he began 
to hope for pardon, and giving thanks to 
the Lord, he confidently said : " Thou shalt 
sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be 
cleansed ; thou shalt wash me, and I shall 
be made whiter than snow." (Psalm 1.) 

The last ceremony is, to put a lighted 
candle into our hand ; this, as we have re 
marked above, signifies nothing more than 
good works, which must be joined with a 
holy life. And what these good works are 
that men must do who are born again by 
Baptism in Christ, the apostle teaches us by 
his example, when he says, " I have fought 
a good fight, I have finished my course, I 
have kept the faith. As to the rest, there 
is laid up for me a crown of justice, which 
the Lord the just judge will render to me 
in that day." (2nd to Timothy iv. 7, 8.) 
Here in a few words are mentioned the 
" good works" which must be performed by 
those who are born again by baptism in 
Christ. They must fight manfully against 
the temptations of the devil, " who goeth 
about like a roaring lion, seeking whom to 
devour." They must also complete the 


" course" of good works by the observance 
of the Commandments of the Lord, accord 
ing to the words of the Psalm : "I have 
been in the way of thy commandments, 
when thou didst enlarge my heart." (118.) 
They must, in fine, preserve fidelity to their 
master in multiplying their talents, or in 
cultivating their vineyard, or in attending 
to the stewardship entrusted to them, or 
in the government of their family, or in 
any other matter appointed them by the 
Almighty. Our most bountiful Lord wishes 
to admit us as adopted sons to His heavenly 
inheritence ; but that this may be done to 
His greater glory and our own, it hath 
pleased the divine wisdom that by our 
good works, performed by His grace and 
our own free will, we should merit eternal 
happiness. Wherefore, this most noble 
and glorious inheritance will not be given 
to those that sleep, or are idle, or fond of 
play ; but only to the watchful, to the labo 
rious, and to those that persevere in good 
works unto the end. 

Let every one then examine his works, 
and diligently inquire into his manner of 
life, if he wish to live well and die well; 
and if his conscience testifies to him that 
he has fought the "good fight" with his 
vices and concupiscences, and with all the 
temptations of the old serpent, and that he 
has finished a happy " course" in all the 
commandments and justifications of the 
Lord without reproof, then he may ex- 


claim with the Apostle, For the r^st there 
is laid up for me a crown of justice, which 
the Lord the just judge will render to me 
in that day." (2nd to Timothy iv.) But if, 
having carefully examined ourselves, our 
conscience shall testily that in our contest 
with the enemy of the human race, we have 
been grievously wounded, and his "fiery 
darts" have penetrated even unto our soul, 
and this not once but often, and that we 
have often failed in the performance of good 
works, and not only ran on slothmlly, but 
sat in the way through fatigue or laid down ; 
and in fine, that we have not preserved our 
fidelity to God in the business entrusted to 
us, but have taken away part of the profit, 
either by vain-glory, or acceptance of per 
sons, or any thing else ; then must we have 
immediate recourse to the remedy of pen 
ance, and to God himself, and not defer 
this most important business till another 
time, because we know neither the day nor 
the hour. 




AFTER baptism follows the sacrament of 
Confirmation, from which may we draw 
motives to live well, no less powerful than 
those deducible from baptism ; for although 
baptism be a sacrament more necessary 
than Confirmation, yet the latter is more 
noble than the former. This is evident 
from the minister, the matter and the effect. 
The ordinary minister of baptism is a priest, 
and in case of necessity any one ; the -ordi 
nary minister of Confirmation is a Bishop, 
and by the dispensation of the Pope, only a 
priest. The matter of baptism is common 
water, that of Confirmation holy oil mixed 
with balsam, consecrated by the Bishop. 
The effect of baptism is grace and a charac 
ter, such are required to create a spiritual 
child ; according to the words of St. Peter, 
" As new-born infants desire the rational 
milk without guile." (1st of St. Peter, xi.) 
The effect of Confirmation is also grace and 
a character, and such are requisite to make 
a Christian soldier fight against his invisi 
ble enemies; according to what St. Paul 
Faith: * For our wrestling is not against 
flesh and blood, but against principalities 
and powers, against tho rulers of the world 


of this darkness, against the spirits of wick 
edness in the high places/ (Ephesians vi. 
12.) In fine, in baptism a little salt is put 
into the infant s mouth ; in Confirmation a 
slight blow is given to us, that so the Chris 
tian soldier may learn to fight, not by 
striking, but by enduring. 

But that we may the more easily under 
stand what is the duty of one anointed with 
chrism, that is, of a Christian soldier, we 
must consider what the Apostles receive/1 at 
their Confirmation on Whit-Sunday. They 
were not confirmed by the chrism, but they 
received from Christ, our chief high priest, 
the effect of the sacrament without the 
sacrament. They received three gifts, wis 
dom, eloquence, and charity, in the highest 
degree, and likewise the gift of miracles, 
which were most useful in converting infidel 
nations to the true faith. These gifts were 
signified by the "fiery tongues/ which 
appeared on the day of Pentecost, whilst a 
sound as of a mighty wind was heard at the 
same time. The light of the fire signified 
wisdom, its heat charity, the form of the 
tongues eloquence, and the sound the gift 
of miracles. 

The sacrament of our Confirmation does 
not bestow the gift of tongues nor the gift 
of miracles, since these were necessary, not 
for the advantage and perfection of the, 
Apostles themselves, but for the conversion 
of the infidels. But it bestows the gifts of 
spiritual wisdom and of charity, which is 


patient and kind;" and as a sign of this 
most rare and yet most precious virtue of 
patience, the Bishop gives the person about 
to be confirmed a slight blow, that he may 
remember he now becomes a soldier of 
Christ, not to strike, but to endure ; not to 
do injuries to others, but to bear them. In 
the Christian warfare, he fights not against 
visible but invisible enemies ; for thus did 
Christ our great commander fight and con 
quer, who being nailed to the cross, con 
quered the infernal powers; thus did the 
Apostles fight, only just confirmed, for being 
severely scourged in the council of the Jews, 
they went forth " rejoicing that they were 
accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the 
name of Jesus." The grace of Confirma 
tion then effects this, that when a man is 
unjustly injured, he should not think of 
revenge, but rejoice that he suffered re 
proach unjustly. 

Let him then who has been confirmed 
enter into the chamber of his heart, and 
diligently inquire whether he has kept in 
his heart the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and 
especially wisdom and fortitude. Let him 
examine, I repeat, whether he possess the 
wisdom of the saints who esteemed eternal 

goods, and despised earthly ones ; whether 
e has the fortitude of soldiers of Christ, 
who bear injuries more willingly than they 
do them. And lest he should possibly be 
deceived, let him descend to practise and 
examine his conscience. If he shall find 


that he is always truly ready to bestow 
alms, not to heap up riches ; and if when in 
jured he thinks not on revenge, but very 
readily .and willingly pardons the injury : 
he may justly exult in his heart as having 
in his soul a pledge of the adoption of the 
sons of God. But if, after having received 
Confirmation, he perceives himself to be no 
less covetous, avaricious, passionate, and 
impatient, and if he with difficulty allows 
any money to be distributed for the relief 
of the poor; but, on the contrary, if he sees 
that he is ready to seize every opportunity 
of lucre, that he is quickly excited, prone 
to revenge, and when requested by his 
friends to forgive an offence is inexorable 
what is the conclusion, but that he has 
received indeed the sacrament, but not the 
grace of the sacrament ? 

What I have said is intended for those 
who are adults, when they approach the 
sacrament ; for they who receive it at an 
age incapable of sin, receive, it is to be be 
lieved, all its gifts and graces. But these 
must stand in fear, lest by sin creeping upon 
them gradually, and deferring to do penance 
for a long time, they extinguish the spirit 
received that is, lose the grace of the Holy 
Spirit. Thus is to be understood what the 
Apostle saith: "Extinguish not the Spirit." 
(1 Thessalonians v. 19.) He extinguishes 
the Holy Spirit, as for as lies in him, who 
destroys in himself the grace of God. 

He, therefore, that desireth to live well, 


and thus to die well, must highly esteem 
the grace of the sacraments, which are ves 
sels of heavenly treasures : and especially 
should he esteem those sacraments, which, 
when once lost, cannot be recovered again 
such as the sacrament of Confirmation, in 
which we receive an incomparable treasure 
of good things. For, although the charac 
ter of this sacrament cannot be obliterated, 
yet a character without the gift of grace 
will not bring any comfort, but only increase 
our punishment and confusion. 



THE holy Eucharist is the greatest of all 
the sacraments : in which not only is grace 
most plentifully given unto us, but even the 
author of grace Himself is received. Two 
things are necessary as regards this sacra 
ment, that a Christian may live well and 
die well. First, that he sometimes receive 
this sacred nourishment, as our Lord saith : 
" Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of 
Man, and drink his blood, you -shall not 
have life in you." Secondly, that he wor 
thily receive this excellent food, for, as the 
Apostle saith in his Epistle to the Corin- 


thians : " He that eateth and drinketh un 
worthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to 
himself, not discerning the body of the 
Lord." (1 Epist. xi. 29.) But the question 
is, how often we ought to receive this food ; 
and again, what preparation is sufficient, 
that we may worthily, or at least not un 
worthily, approach to this heavenly ban 

Concerning the first point, there have 
been many and different customs in the 
Catholic Church. In the Church of the 
first ages the faithful most frequently re 
ceived the holy Eucharist. Therefore doth 
St. Cyprian, in his Discourse on the Lord s 
Prayer, explain the words, " Give us this 
day our daily bread," as relating to the 
holy Eucharist ; and he teaches that this 
sacrament is daily to be received, unless 
some lawful impediment hinder us. But 
afterwards, when charity grew cold, many 
deterred their communion for several years. 
Then pope Innocent III. issued a decree, 
that at least every year, about Easter, the 
faithful, both male and female, should be 
obliged to receive the holy Eucharist. But 
the common opinion of doctors seems to be 
very pious and laudable, for the faithful to 
approach the divine banquet every Sunday, 
and on other great festivals. The sentence, 
supposed to have been uttered by St. Au 
gustine, is very common amongst spiritual 
writers : " To receive the eucharist daily, I 
neither praise uor blame ; but I do advise 


and exhort all to receive it every Sunday. 
Although the work on "Ecclesiastical Dog 
mas," whence this opinion is drawn, does 
not seem to have been written by St. Au 
gustine, yet it is by an ancient writer, and 
his words are not contrary to the doctrine 
of St. Augustine, who most clearly teaches 
in his Epistle to Januarius, " that ^ neither 
those err who advise daily communion, nor 
those who think it should not be so often 
received." Certainly, he who teaches this 
doctrine cannot in any manner blame those 
who choose a middle way, and advise com 
munion every Sunday. That this was the 
opinion of St. Jerome, we may learn from 
his Commentary on St. Paul s Epistle to 
the Galatians, where, explaining the fourth 
chapter, he thus speaks: " Although it be 
lawful for us either to keep a perpetual fast, 
or always to be praying, and continually to 
keep with joy the Lord s day by receiving 
the body of the Lord ; yet, it is not lawful 
for the Jews to immolate a lamb," <fcc. 
This was the opinion of St. Thomas also. 

With regard to the other question con 
cerning the preparation necessary for re 
ceiving so great a sacrament, that we may 
receive it for our salvation, and not for our 
judgment and condemnation, it is first of 
all requisite that our soul be living in a 
state of grace, and not dead in mortal sin. 
Eor this reason it is called " food," and is 
given to us in the form of bread, because it 
is the food not of the dead but of the living. 


" He that eateth this bread, shall live for 
ever," saith our Lord in St. John; and in 
the same place : " My flesh is true meat." 
The Council of Trent adds, that for a wor 
thy preparation and reception, it is not suf 
ficient that he who is denied with mortal 
sin should be content with contrition alone ; 
but that he should also endeavour to ex 
piate his sins by approaching the sacrament 
of Penance, if he has an opportunity. And 
moreover, because this sacrament is not 
only our food, but also a medicine, and the 
best and most salutary medicine against all 
spiritual diseases; therefore it is required 
in the second place, that the sick man 
should desire his health, and his deliver 
ance from all diseases of his vices, and 
especially from the principal ones such as 
luxury, avarice, pride, <fec. That the holy 
Eucharist is a medicine, St. Ambrose 
teaches in his fifth book on the Sacraments 
(cap. iy.) : " He that is wounded requires 
medicine ; we are wounded, because we are 
under sin ; and the medicine is the sacred 
and heavenly sacrament." And St. Bona- 
venture says: "He that thinketh himself 
unworthy, let him consider how much the 
greater need he hath of a physician, by how 
much the more enfeebled he is." And 
St. Bernard, in his Sermon on the Supper 
of our Lord, admonishes his brethren, that 
when they feel evil propensities or any other 

* De Profectu Religiosorum, cap. 78 


disorders of the soul diminishing within 
them, they should attribute it to this bless 
ed sacrament. 

Lastly, this holy Sacrament is not only 
the food of travellers and the medicine of 
the sick, it is also a most skilful and loving 
physician, and therefore is to be received 
with great joy and reverence; and the 
house of our soul ought to be adorned with 
all kind of virtues, especially with faith, 
hope, charity, devotion, and the fruits of 
good works, such as prayer, fasting, and 
ahnsdeeds. These ornaments the sweet 
guest of our soul requires, though He 
stancleth not in need of our goods. Keflect 
also, that the Physician who visits us is 
our King and our God, whose purity is in 
finite, and who therefore requires a most 
pure habitation. Hear St. Chrysostom, in 
one of his Sermons to the people of An- 
tioch: " How pure ought he to be that 
offers such a sacrifice ! Ought not the 
hand that divides this flesh to be more 
pure than the rays of the sun ? Ought not 
the tongue to be filled with a spiritual 

Whoever, then, desireth to live well and 
die well, let him enter into the chamber of 
his heart, and shutting the door, alone be 
fore God, who gearcheth the reins and the 
heart, let him attentively consider how 
often, and with what preparation, he has 
received the body of the Lord ; and it he 
shall find that by the grace of God he has 


often and worthily communicated, and 
thereby has been well nourished and cured 
gradually of his spiritual maladies, and 
that he has daily advanced more and more 
in virtue and good works : then let him ex 
ult with trembling, and serve the Lord in 
fear not so much a servile fear, as a 
filial and chaste fear. But if any one, 
content with an annual communion, should 
think no more of this life-giving Sacrament, 
and forgetting to eat this heavenly bread, 
should feed and fatten his body whilst his 
soul is allowed to languish and starve, let 
such an one remember that he is in a bad 
state, and very far from the kingdom of 
God. Annual communion is enjoined by 
the holy Council, not that we should par 
take of it only once, but that we should 
approach to it at least once a-year, unless 
we wish to be cut off from the Church, and 
delivered over to the devil. Those that act 
thus, (and many there are,) receive the 
Lord in His sacrament, not with a filial 
love, but with servile fear ; and soon do 
they return to the husks of swine, to the 
pleasures of the world, to temporal gain, 
and to seeking after transitory honours. 
Hence in death they hear these words that 
were addressed to the rich glutton : " Son, 
remember that thou didst receive good 
things in thy life-time." But if any one, 
frequently approaching this most holy Sa 
crament, either on Sundaj^s, or every day, 
if he be a priest, should still discover that 


he is not free from mortal sin, nor that he 
seriously performs good works, nor is truly 
disengaged from the world, but that, like 
others who are of the world, he pants after 
money, is fond of carnal pleasures, and 
sighs after honours and dignities this man 
certainly "eats and drinks judgment to 
himself;" and the oftener he approaches the 
holy Mysteries, so does he the more imitate 
the traitor Judas, of whom our Lord speaks, 
" It were better for him he had never been 
born." But no one, whilst he lives, must 
despair of his salvation. Wherefore, he 
that remembereth in the chamber of his 
heart his years and his works, and feels 
that hitherto he hath wandered from the 
way of salvation, let him reflect that he has 
still time to repent ; let him seriously begin 
to do penance, and return to the path of 

I will add, before I close this chapter, 
what St. Bonaventure writes, in his Life of 
St. Francis, of the admirable piety and 
love of this saint towards the holy Eucha 
rist, that so from his burning love our 
tepidity and coldness may be inflamed: 
He burned with the utmost love of his 
soul for this blessed Sacrament, being lost 
in wonder at this most endearing conde 
scension and boundless chanty. Often did 
he communicate, and so devoutly, that he 
made others devout also ; for when he re 
ceived the immaculate Lamb, being, as it 


were, inebriated in spirit, he frequently fell 
into raptures.""" 

How far distant from this saint are, not 
only many of the laity, but even many 
priests, who offer up the Sacrifice with such 
unseemly hurry, that neither they them 
selves seem to know what they are doing, 
nor do they allow others to fix then: atten 
tion on the sacred service. 



THE sacrament ot Penance comes next, 
which consists of three conditions relating to 
him that receives this sacrament contri 
tion of heart, confession, and satisfaction. 
They who properly comply with these three 
things, without doubt obtain the pardon of 
their sins. But we must attentively consi 
der what is meant by true contrition, sincere 
confession, and full satisiaction. 

Let us begin with contrition. The pro 
phet Joel exclaims : " Render your heart, 
and not your garments;" when the He 
brews wished to express their sorrow for 
anything, they rent their garments, so does 

* Vita St. Francisci, Cap. ix. 


the holy prophet admonish us that, if we 
wish to express before God our true and in 
ward sorrow for our sins, we must rend our 
hearts. And the prophet David adds, that 
we must not only rend them, but bruise them 
as it were, and reduce them to powder : " A 
contrite [contritum] and humble heart, O 
God, thou wilt not despise." This compari 
son clearly shows that, in order to appease 
God by penance, it is not sufficient to say in 
words, " I am sorry for my sins ;" but we 
must feel a deep and inward sorrow of 
heart, which can scarcely be experienced 
without tears and sobs. It is wonderful 
how strongly the holy Fathers speak of true 
contrition. St. Cyprian in his Sermon on 
the Lapsed saith : "As greatly as we have 
offended, so much must we weep ; for a 
deep wound a long and careful course of 
medicine is necessary. Our penance must 
not be less than our crime; we must be 
continually praying, passing the day in 
weeping, and the night in watching. Wo 
must spend all our time in tears and lamen 
tations, lying on ashes alone, and clothed 
in sackcloth." St. Clement of Alexandria 
calls penance the " baptism of tears ;" St. 
Gregory Nazianzen, in his Second Ser 
mon on Baptism, says : " I shall receive 
penitents, if I see them watered with 
their tears." Thcodoret, in his Epitome 
of the Divine Command, writes : " That 
the wounds which we receive after baptism 
may indeed be healed, but not, as formerly 


could so easily be done, by the waters of 
regeneration, but by many tears and pain 
ful labours." 

These and such-like are the sentiments 
of all the holy Fathers concerning true con 
trition. But now many approach to con 
fession, who seem to possess little or no 
contrition whatever. But they who wish to 
be truly reconciled to God, and to live well, 
that so they may die well, ought to enter 
the chamber of their heart, and closing the 
door to all worldly distractions, thus speak 
with themselves : " Alas ! what have I done, 
miserable man that I am, in committing 
such a crime ! I have offended my most 
bountiful Father, the giver of all good things, 
who hath loved me so much, who hath sur 
rounded me on all sides with benefits, and so 
many proofs of this love do I see, as I behold 
myself or others in possession of such bene 
fits. But what shall I say of my Saviour, 
who loved me even when His enemy, and 
delivered Himself for me an oblation and 
a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweet 
ness; and I am so ungrateful as still to 
offend Him ! how great is my cruelty ! 
My Lord was scourged, crowned with 
thorns, and nailed to a cross, that He 
might apply a remedy for my sins and 
offences, and still I cease not to add sin 
upon sin ! He, hanging naked on the 
cross, exclaimed that He thirsted for my 
salvation, and I still continue to offer Him 
vinegar and most bitter gall! Who will 


explain to me from what a height of glory 
I fell, when I committed such and such a 
sin ? I was heir to an eternal kingdom a 
life of eternal happiness; but from this great 
happiness the greatest that can possibly 
be possessed I unhappily fell, for a short 
passing pleasure, or for certain offensive 
words, or blasphemous language against 
God, which did me no good whatever. 
And to what a state have I come, having 
lost that happiness ! To the captivity ol 
the devil, my most cruel enemy ; and as 
soon as the putrid carcase of my body shall 
be dissolved which may be any moment 
then, instantly, and without any remedy, 
shall I descend into hell. Ah ! me misera 
ble ! Perhaps this day, this very night, I 
may begin to dwell in those eternal burn 
ings ! And, in spite of all these considera 
tions, the ingratitude ^of a most wicked 
servant increases against a most loving 
Father and Lord; for the more He hath 
loaded me with benefits, so much the more 
have I offended Him by my sins." 

Whoever thou art that readest this book, 
such are the sentiments thou shouldst ex 
cite within thy heart. Earnestly do I hope 
that thou mayest obtain of God the gift of 
contrition. The penitent David once en 
tered into the chamber of his heart, after 
having committed adultery ; and soon pos 
sessed of true contrition, did he water his 
couch with his tears. Peter also, being 
penitent, entered into his heart, after having 


denied his Master, and immediately " he 
wept bitterly. Magdalen, being penitent, 
entered also into her heart, and "she began 
to wash His feet with her tears, ^and wiped 
them with the hairs of her head." These, 
then, are the fruits of holy contrition, which 
cannot arise except in the solitude of the 

We will now speak briefly on confession. 
I know that many people approach to it, 
without any, or very little benefit ; and this 
arises from no other cause than their not 
entering into their heart, before they prepare 
themselves for confession. Some so negli 
gently perform this work, that only gene 
rally, and in a confused way, they accuse 
themselves of having violated all the Com 
mandments, or of having committed every 
mortal sin. To such people only a general 
absolution can be given, or rather they are 
not in a state to receive absolution at all. 
Others, again, relate their sins indeed in a 
certain order, but they make no mention of 
persons, place, time, number, and other cir 
cumstances ; this is a great and dangerous 
negligence. It is one thing to strike a 
priest, and another to strike a layman, 
since to the former offence excommunica 
tion is annexed, but not to the latter ; it is 
one offence to sin with a virgin, another 
with a person consecrated to God, another 
with a married person, another with a har 
lot one thing to have committed the 
offence once, another to have been guilty 01 


it many times. Again, there are others 
and this is more astonishing who imagine 
that internal sins, such as desires of forni 
cation, adultery, homicide, and theft, are not 
sins unless actually committed ! Nor even 
immodest looks, nor impure touches, nor 
lascivious words. And yet our Lord Him 
self expressly says: "Whosoever looketh 
on a woman to lust after her, hath already 
committed adultery with her in his heart." 
He therefore who wishes to examine his 
conscience well, and to make a good con 
fession, must first read some useful book on 
the method of making a proper confession, 
or at least consult some pious and learned 
confessor. Then let him enter into the 
chamber of his heart, and not hastily, but 
accurately and seriously examine his con 
science, his thoughts, desires, words, and 
actions, as well as his omissions; after 
wards he should lay open his conscience to 
his director, and humbly implore absolu 
tion from him, being ready to perform 
whatever "penance * may be imposed upon 

There now remains satisfaction, of which 
our forefathers, most learned men, had 
much higher ideas than many of us now 
seem to possess. For as they seriously re 
membered, that satisfaction can more 
easily be made to God on earth than it can 
in purgatory, they imposed many long and 
severe penances. Thus, for instance, as 
regards the duration, some penances g con- 


tinued for seven, or fifteen, or thirty years : 
some even during a whole life. Then with 
regard to the nature of the penances, most 
frequent fasts and long prayers were en 
joined : besides, the bath, riding, fine gar 
ments, games, and theatrical amusements, 
were forbidden : in fine, almost the whole 
life of the penitents was spent in sorrow 
and mourning. I will give one example. 

In the tenth council of Toledo we read, 
that a bishop named Fotamius, who had 
been guilty of some sin of impurity, had of 
his own accord, shut himself up in a prison, 
and there did penance for nine months: 
and afterwards, that he acknowledged his 
sin to the council of bishops in writing, and 
begged for penance. We are told, how 
ever, that the council decreed he should 
spend the rest of his life in penance, telling 
him at the same time, they treated him 
more mercifully than the ancient laws 

But now, we are so weak and delicate, 
that a fast on bread and water for a few 
days, together with the penitential Psalms 
and litanies to be recited for a certain time, 
and a few alms to be given to the poor, 
seem severe enough even for enormous 
crimes and offences. But as much as we 
spare ourselves in this life, so much the 
more grievously will the justice of God 
make us suffer in purgatory; unless indeed 
the efficacy of our true contrition be such, 
coming from an ardent charity, that by the 


mercy of God, we obtain the pardon of our 
sins and of all the punishment due for 
them. A truly contrite and humble heart, 
wonderfully excites the compassion of God 
our Father; for so great is His sweetness 
and goodness, that He cannot but run to 
meet the prodigal but repenting son, to em 
brace him, to kiss him, to give him the 
pledge of peace, and wipe away all his 
tears, and fill him with tears of joy, sweeter 
than honey and the honey-comb. 



THE two Sacraments which follow, and 
which require a brief explanation, do not 
regard all Christians : one relates to clerics, 
and the other (matrimony) to laics. We 
will not enter upon all the points which 
might be mentioned concerning holy Or 
ders, but only speak of those matters which 
are necessary for a good life and a happy 
. death. 

The orders are seven in number, four 
minor orders and three greater; the highest 
of which, called the priesthood, is divided 
into two; those who are Bishops, are higher 


than others who are simple priests. Before 
all the orders, the tonsure is first received, 
which is as it were the gate to all the rest ; 
this properly makes men Clerics. And since 
what is required from Clerics, in order that 
they may lead a good and religious life, is 
with greater reason required of those who 
have received minor orders, and especially 
the priesthood or episcopacy; therefore I 
shall be content with considering those 
duties that relate to clerics. 

Two points seem to require explanation ; 
first, the ceremony by which clerics are 
made; secondly, the office they have to dis 
charge in the church. The ceremony, as 
it is described in the Pontifical, consists in 
first cutting the hair of the head; by which 
rite is signified, the laying aside of all vain 
and superfluous desires, such as thoughts 
and desires of temporal goods, riches, ho 
nours, and pleasures, and others of the 
same nature: and at the same time, those 
whose hair is being cut, are required to re 
peat the fifth verse of the xv. Psalm: 
" The Lord is the portion of my inheri 
tance and of my cup : it is Thou that will 
restore my inheritance to me." Then the 
Bishop orders a white surplice to be 
brought, which he puts on the cleric, say 
ing these words of the Apostle to the Ephe- 
sians : " Put on the new man, who accord 
ing to God, is created in justice and holi 
ness of truth/ (chap iv. 24.) There is no 
particular office appointed for a cleric : but 


it is customary for him to serve the priest 
at his private mass. 

Let us now consider what degree of per 
fection is required in a cleric ; and if so 
much is required of him, how much in an 
acolyte, subdeacon, deacon, priest, and 
Bishop ! I am horrified to think, how many 
priests scarcely possess what is strictly re 
quired in a simple cleric. He is exhorted 
to cast away all idle thoughts and desires, 
which belong only to men of the world; 
that is, to men who are of the world, who 
are continually thinking of worldly things. 
The good cleric is exhorted to seek for no 
other inheritance than God, that He alone 
" may be the portion of his inheritance ;" 
and the cleric may be truly said to be "the 
portion and inheritance" of God alone. O ! 
how high is the clerical state which re 
nounces the whole world that it may pos 
sess God alone, and may in return be pos 
sessed by God alone ! "This is the meaning 
of the words of the Psalmist: " The Lord 
is the portion of my inheritance and of my 
cup/ That is said to be "the portion of 
inheritance," which in the division of a 
property among relations, falls to the share 
of each one. Wherefore, the sense of the 
word is, not that the cleric wishes to take 
God as a portion of his inheritance, and to 
make worldly riches another portion ; but 
that from the bottom of his heart he desires 
to transfer to his good God, his whole inhe 
ritance, that is, whatever may belong to him 


in this world. Between cup and inheritance 
there seems to be this difference, that a cup 
relates to pleasures and delights, and inhe 
ritance to riches and honours. "Wherefore, 
the general sense is this: O Lord, my 
God ! from this time whatever riches, or 
pleasures, or other temporal goods I can 
tope for in this world, I desire to possess 
all in Thee alone. Thou alone art sufficient 
for me. And since he cannot have an 
abundance of spiritual good things here on 
earth, therefore the cleric continues pray 
ing: " It is Thou that wilt restore my inhe 
ritance to me." What I have despised and 
rejected for Thee, or given to the poor, or 
forgiven my debtors, Thou wilt faithfully 
preserve for me, and restore to me in due 
season, not in corruptible gold, but in Thy 
self, who art the inexhaustible fountain of 
all good. 

But lest any one should doubt my words, 
I will add two authorities much greater 
than mine without any exception, viz. St. 
Jerome and St. Bernard. St. Jerome, in 
his Epistle to Nepotianus, speaking on a 
clerical life, thus writes: "Let a cleric, 
who serves the Church of Christ, first ex 
plain his name; and its definition being 
known, he must endeavour to be what it is 
called: the Greek is KX^OS, and in Latin 
Sors, which means inheritance : wherefore 
they are called clerics, either because they 
are chosen by the Lord, or because the 
Lord is their inheritance. But he who 


hath the Lord for his inheritance, ought so 
to conduct himself, that he may possess the 
Lord, and may be possessed by Him. And 
he that possesses the Lord, and says with 
the prophet, " The Lord is my portion," 
can possess nothing out of God. But if he 
have any thing beside God, the Lord will 
not be his portion : as, for example, if he 
possess gold, or silver, or land, or various 
goods, the Lord his inheritance will not 
deign to be with these other portions. 
Thus St. Jerome ; and if we read his whole 
epistle we shall find that great perfection is 
required in clerics. 

St. Bernard comes next: he not only ap 
proves of the language of St. Jerome, but 
he sometimes uses his words, although he 
does not mention his name. Thus he 
speaks in his very long Sermon on the 
words of St. Peter, " Behold we have left 
all things," which occur in the Gospel of 
St. Matthew: " A cleric," he says, "who 
hath any part with the world, will have no 
inheritance in heaven: if he possess any 
thing beside God, the Lord will not be his 
inheritance." And a little below he pro 
ceeds, declaring what a cleric can retain of 
ecclesiastical benefices : " Not to give the 
property of the poor to the poor, is the same 
as the crime of sacrilege : whatever minis 
ters and dispensers not lords and posses 
sors receive out of church property beyond 
mere food and clothing, is by a sacrilegious 
cruelty taken from the patrimony of the 


poor." Thus St. Bernard perfectly agrees 
with St. Jerome. 

The ceremony of putting on the white 
surplice follows, with these words of the 
apostle : " Put on the new man, who ac 
cording to God, is created in justice and 
holiness of troth." It is not sufficient for 
clerics, not to be in love with riches ; their 
life must also be innocent and without 
stain, because they are dedicated to the 
ministry of the altar, on which is immolated 
the Lamb without spot. Now, to put on 
" the new man," means nothing else than 
to cast off the ways of the old Adam, who 
hath corrupted his way, and to put on the 
new Adam, that is Christ, who being born 
of the Blessed Virgin, pointed out a new 
way "in justice and holiness of truth;" 
which means, not only in moral justice but 
also in the most perfect and supernatural 
holiness, such as Christ showed Himself to 
us, who according to St. Peter, " Did no 
sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." 
(chap. ii. 1 Epist.) Would that many 
clerics were to be found now, who clothed 
in their white surplice, might show it in 
their life and manners. 

In fine, another office of clerics is, to 
assist with devotion, reverence, and atten 
tion, at the Divine Sacrifice, in which the 
Lamb of God is daily sacrificed. I know 
that there are many pious clerics to be 
found in the Church ; but I not only know, 
but I Lave often seen many assisting at the 


altar of the Lord, with roving eyes and im 
proper demeanour, as if the service were a 
mean and common thing, and not most 
sacred and terrible ! And perhaps the 
cleric is not so much to blame as the priest 
himself, who sometimes says mass in such 
a hurried manner and with so little devo 
tion, as to seem not to be aware of what he 
is doing. Let such hear what St. Chrysos- 
tom says on this matter: " At that time 
angels surround the priest, and the whole 
heavenly powers sing aloud, and gather 
round the altar, in honour of Him who is 
immolated thereon."" This we may easily 
believe, when we consider the greatness of 
the Sacrifice. St. Gregory also thus speaks 
in the fourth book of his Dialogues : "Who 
amongst the faithful can hesitate in believ 
ing, that at the moment of immolation 
when the priest pronounces the word, the 
heavens open and choirs of angels descend: 
that heavenly things are joined with earthly, 
visible with invisible?" If these words be 
seriously pondered upon, both by priest and 
cleric attending upon him, how is it possi 
ble that they can act as they sometimes do? 
! what a sorrowful and deplorable specta 
cle would it be, could the eves of our soul 
be opened, to see a priest celebrating, sur 
rounded on all sides with choirs of angels, 
who stand in wonder and tremble at what 
he is doing, and sing spiritual canticles in 

* Lib. vi. De Sacerdotio. 


admiration ; and yet to behold the priest in 
the midst, cold and stupidly inattentive to 
what he is about, not understanding what 
he says; and so he hurriedly offers the 
mass, neglects the ceremonies, and, in fact, 
seems not to know what he is doing ! And 
in the mean time, the cleric looks here and 
there, or even keeps talking to some one ! 
Thus is God mocked, thus are the most 
sacred things despised, thus is matter of 
fered to heretics to scoff at. And since this 
cannot be denied, I admonish and exhort 
all ecclesiastics, that being dead to the 
world, they live for God alone ; not desiring 
an abundance of riches, zealously preser 
ving their innocence, and assisting at divine 
things with devotion, as they ought, and 
endeavouring to make others do the same. 
Thus will they gain great confidence with 
God, and at the same time fill the Church 
of Christ with the good odour of their 




THE sacrament of Matrimony comes 
next : it has a two-fold institution ; one, as 
it is a civil contract by the natural law; 
another, as it is a sacrament by the law of 
the Gospel. Of both institutions we shall 
briefly speak, not absolutely, but only as 
regards teaching us how to live well, that 
so we may die well. Its first institution 
was made by God in paradise ; for these 
words of God, "It is not good for man to 
be alone," cannot properly be understood, 
unless they have relation to some means of 
propagating the human race. St. Augus 
tine justly remarks, that in no way does 
man stand in need of the woman, except in 
bringing forth and educating children ; for 
in other things, men derive more assistance 
from their fellow-men than from women. 
Wherefore, a little after the woman had been 
formed, Adam divinely inspired said: " A 
man shall leave his father and mother, and 
cleave to his wife:" and these words our 
Lord in St. Matthew attributes to God, 
saying : " Have ye not read, that he who 
made man from the beginning, made them 
male and female ? And he said : For this 
cause shall a man leave father and mother, 


and shall cleave to his wife, and they two 
shall be in one flesh. What therefore God 
hath joined together, let no man put asun 
der." (chap, xix.) Our Lord here attri 
butes these words to God, because Adam 
spoke them not as coming from himself, 
but from the divine inspiration. Such was 
the first institution of Matrimony. 

Another institution, or rather exaltation 
of matrimony to the dignity of a sacrament, 
is found in St. Paul s Epistle to the Ephe- 
sians : " For this cause shall a man leave 
his father and mother, and shall cleave to 
his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. 
This is a great sacrament : but I speak in 
Christ and in the Church." (chap. v. 
31, 32.) That matrimony is a true sacra 
ment, St. Augustine proves in his book on 
"A good husband" he says: " In our 
marriages, more account is made of the 
sanctity of the sacrament than fecundity of 
birth:" and in the xxiv. chapter he says 
again : " Among all nations and people the 
advantage of marriage consists in being the 
means of producing children in the faith of 
chastity: but as regards the people of God, 
it also consists in the sanctity of the Sacra 
ment." And in his book on " Faith and 
Works," he says : " In the city of the Lord 
and in his holy Mount, that is, in his 
Church, marriage is not only a bond, it is 
also considered to be a Sacrament." But 
on this point I need say nothing more. It 
only remains that I explain, how men and 


women united in matrimony should so live, 
that they may die a good death. 

There are three blessings arising from 
Matrimony, if it be made a good use of, 
viz : Children, fidelity, and the grace of the 
sacrament. The generation of children, 
together with their proper education, must 
be had in view, if we would make a good 
use of matrimony ; but on the contrary, he 
commits a most grievous sin, who seeks 
only carnal pleasure in it. Hence Onan, 
one of the children of the patriarch Juda, 
is most severely blamed in Scripture for 
not remembering this, which was to 
abuse, not use the holy Sacrament. But if 
sometimes it happen that married people 
should be oppressed with the number of 
their children, whom through poverty they 
cannot easily support, there is a remedy 
pleasing to God; and this is, by mutual 
consent to separate from the marriage-bed, 
and spend their days in prayer and fasting. 
For if it be agreeable to Him, for married 
persons to grow old in virginity, after the 
example of the Blessed Virgin and St. 
Joseph, (whose lives the Emperor Henry 
and his wife Chunecunda endeavoured to 
imitate, as well as King Edward and 
Egdida, Eleazor a knight, and his lady 
Dalphina, and several others,) why should 
it be displeasing to God or men, that mar 
ried people should not live together as man 
and wife, by mutual consent, that so they 


may spend the rest of their days in prayer 
and fasting ? 

Again : it is a most grievous sin, for peo 
ple united in matrimony and blessed with 
children, to neglect them or their pious edu 
cation, or to allow them to want the neces 
saries of life. On this point, we have many 
examples, both in sacred and profane His 
tory: but as I wish to be concise, I shall be 
content with adducing one only from the 
first book of Kings : "In that day I will 
raise up against Heli all the things I have 
spoken concerning his house : I will begin 
and I will make an end. For I have fore 
told unto him, that I will judge his house 
for ever for iniquity, because he knew that 
his sons did wickedly, and did not chastise 
them. Therefore have I sworn to the 
house of Heli, that the iniquity of his house 
shall not be expiated with victims nor offer 
ings for ever." (chap. iii. 12, <fcc.) These 
threats God shortly after fulfilled ; for the 
sons of Heli were slain in battle, and Hell 
himself falling from his seat backwards, 
broke his neck and died miserably. Where 
fore, if Heli, otherwise a just man, and an 
upright judge of the people, perished mise 
rably with his sons, because he did not 
educate them as he ought to have done, 
and did not chastise them when they be 
came wicked ; what will become of those, 
who not only do not endeavour to educate 
their children properly, but by their bad 
example encourage them to sin? Iruly, 


they can expect nothing less than a horri 
ble death, for themselves and for their chil 
dren, unless they repent in time and do 
suitable penance. 

Another blessing, and that a most noble 
one, is the grace of the Sacrament, which 
God Himself pours into the hearts of pious 
married persons, provided the marriage be 
duly celebrated, and the individuals are 
found to be well disposed and prepared. This 
grace, not to mention other blessings it 
brings with it, helps in a wonderful manner 
to produce love and peace between married 
people, although the different dispositions 
and manners of each other are capable of 
sowing discord. But, above all things, an 
imitation of the union of Christ with the 
Church makes marriage most sweet and 
blessed. Of this the Apostle thus speaks 
in his Epistle to the Ephesians: "Hus 
bands, love your wives, as Christ also 
loved the Church, and delivered Himself 
up for it, that He might sanctify it, cleansing 
it by the laver of water, in the word of life, 
that he might present it to Himself a glo 
rious Church, not having spot or wrinkle." 
(chap. v. 25, &c.) The Apostle admonishes 
women also, saying: " Let women be sub 
ject to their husbands, as to the Lord. 
Because the husband is the head of the 
wife, as Christ is the head of the Church. 
Therefore as the Church is subject to 
Christ, so also let the wives be to their 
husbands in all things." The Apostle con- 


eludes : " Nevertheless let every one of you 
in particular love his wife as himself, and 
let the wife fear her husband." If these 
words of the Apostle be diligently consi 
dered, they will make our marriage blessed 
in heaven and on earth 

But we will briefly explain the meaning 
of St. Paul s words. .First, he exhorts 
husbands that they love their wives, " as 
Christ hath loved the Church." Christ 
certainly loved His church with a love of 
friendship, not with a love of concupiscence ; 
He sought the good of the Church, the 
safety of the Church, and not His own utili 
ty, nor His own pleasure. Wherefore, they 
do not imitate Christ, who love their wives 
on account of their beauty, being captivated 
by the love thereof, or on account of their 
rich dowry or valuable inheritance, for such 
love not their spouse but themselves, de 
siring to satisfy the concupiscence of their 
flesh, or the concupiscence of their eyes, 
which is called avarice. Thus Solomon, 
wise in the beginning, but in the end un 
wise, loved his wives and his concubines, 
not with the love of friendship, but of con 
cupiscence ; desiring not to benefit them, 
but to satisfy his carnal concupiscence, 
wherewith being blinded, he hesitated not 
to sacrifice to strange gods, lest he should 
grieve in the least his mistresses. Now, 
that Christ in His marriage with His 
Church, sought not Himself, that is, His 
own utility or pleasure, but the good of His 


spouse, is evident from the following words : 
" He delivered himself for it that he might 
sanctity it, cleansing it by the laver of 
water in the word of life." This indeed is 
true and perfect charity, to deliver one s 
self to punishment, for the eternal welfare 
of the Church his spouse. But not only 
did our Saviour love the Church with a love 
of friendship, not concupiscence, but also 
He loved it, not for a time, but with a per 
petual love. For as He never laid aside 
His human nature which He once assumed, 
so also He united His spouse to Himself, 
in a bond of indissoluble marriage. " With 
a perpetual love have I loved thee," saith 
He by the prophet Jercmias. This is the 
reason why marriage is indissoluble among 
Christians, because it is a sacrament signi 
fying the union of Christ with His church ; 
whilst marriage among the Pagans and 
Jews, could be dissolved in certain cases. 

The same apostle afterward teaches 
women to be " subject" to their husbands, 
as the Church is subject to Christ. Jeza- 
bel did not observe this precept ; for as she 
wished to rule her husband, she lost herself 
and him, together with all their children. 

And would that there were not so many 
females in these days, who endeavour to 
rule over their husbands ; but perhaps the 
fault is in the men, who do not know how 
to retain their superiority. Sara, the wife 
of Abraham, was so subject to her husband, 
that she called him lord: "I am grown 


old, and my lord is an old man," cfec. 
And this obedience of Sara, St. Peter in 
his first Epistle thus praises: "For after 
this manner holy women also, being in sub 
jection to their husbands, as Sara obeyed 
Abraham, calling him lord." (chap. iii. 5, 
6.) It may appear strange, that the holy 
Apostles Peter and Paul should be con 
tinually exhorting husbands to love their 
wives, and wives to fear their husbands; 
but if they be subject to their husbands, 
should they not also love them? A wife 
ought to love her husband, and be loved in 
retuni by him ; but she should love him 
with fear and reverence, so that her love 
should not prevent her fear, otherwise she 
might become a tyrant. Dalila mocked 
her husband Sampson, though such a strong 
man, not as a man, but as a slave. And in 
the book of Esdras it is related of a king, 
how being captivated with love for his con 
cubine, he suffered her to sit at his right 
hand; but she took the crown from the 
king s head and put it upon her own, and 
even struck the king himself. Wherefore, 
we must not be surprised at the Almighty 
having said to the first woman : " Thou 
shalt be under thy husband s power, and he 
shall have dominion over thee." (Genesis, 
iii. 1 6.) Hence a husband requires no little 
wisdom to love, and at the same time rule 
his wife ; to admonish her and teach her 
also ; and if necessary, even correct her. 
We have an example in St. Monica the 


mother of St. Augustine ; her husband was 
a cruel man and a Pagan, but yet she bore 
with him so piously and prudently, that she 
always was loved by him, and at length 
converted him to God. * 



THERE now remains the last sacrament 
to speak of, Extreme Unction ; from this 
may be derived most useful lessons, not only 
for our last hour, but for the whole course 
of our life For in this Sacrament are 
anointed all those parts of the body in 
which the five senses reside, and in the 
anointing of each of them it is said: "May 
our Lord forgive thee whatever thou mayest 
have committed by thy sight, hearing, &c." 
Hence we see, that these senses are as it 
were five gates, through which all kinds of 
sin can enter into the soul. If then we care 
fully guard these gates, we shall easily avoid 
a multitude of sins, and therefore shall be 
enabled to live well and die well. 

We will now speak briefly on guarding 

* See St. Augustine s " Confessions. 


these five gates. That the eye is a gate 
through which enter sins against chastity, 
our Saviour teaches us when He says: 
" But I say to you, that whosoever shall 
look upon a woman to lust after her, hath 
already committed adultery with her in his 
heart. And if thy right eye scandalize 
thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. For 
it is expedient for thee that one of thy 
members should perish, rather than that thy 
whole body go into hell." (St. Matthew v. 
28.) We know that the old men who saw 
Susanna naked, were immediately inflamed 
with evil desires of lust, and in conse 
quence suffered a miserable death. We 
know also how David, the particular friend 
of God, from merely seeing Bethsabee 
washing herself, fell into adultery, and from 
that into murder, and innumerable other 
evils. Reason itself convinces us of this 
truth ; for the beauty of a woman compels, 
in a manner, a man to love her ; and the 
beauty of a man compels the woman : nor 
does this love rest till it ends in carnal em 
braces, on account of the concupiscence de 
rived to us from original sin. This evil the 
holy apostle Paul deplores, where he says : 
"But I see another law in my members 
fighting against the law of my mind, and 
captivating me in the law of sin, that is in 
my members. Unhappy man that I am, 
who shall deliver me from the body of this 
death ? The grace of God by Jesus Christ 
our Lord." (Epist. to Romans, vii. 23.) 


What remedy is there against so griev 
ous a temptation? The remedy is quick 
and easy with the assistance of God, if we 
wish to make use of it. St. Augustine 
mentions a remedy in his 109th Epistle, 
vyhich contains rules for monks ; the holy 
father thus speaks : " If you cast your eyes 
upon any one, fix them upon no one." A 
simple glance of the eyes is almost impossi 
ble to be avoided ; but it cannot strike the 
heart, except it be continued upon the ob 
ject. Wherefore, if we do not designedly 
accustom ourselves to look upon a beautiful 
woman, and should by chance cast our eyes 
upon one, and then quickly turn them 
aside, there will be no danger to us; for 
truly does St. Augustine remark, that not 
in the glance, but in the dwelling upon the 
object, is the danger. Hence holy Job 
says: "I made a covenant with my eyes, 
that I would not so much as think upon 
a virgin." (chap, xxxi.) He does not say, 
" I have made a covenant" not to look, but 
" not so much as to think" upon a virgin : 
this ^means, I will not look too long upon a 
virgin, lest the sight should penetrate my 
heart, and I should begin to think of her 
beauty, and gradually to desire to speak 
with her, and then embrace her. He then 
gives the best reason a most holy man 
could give: "For what part would God 
from above have in me?" As if he in 
tended to say: God is my chief Happiness 
and my Inheritance, my greatest good, than 


whom nothing more excellent can be ima 
gined : but God loves only the chaste and 
just. To the same purpose are the words 
of our Lord : " If thy eye scandalize thee, 
pluck it out;" that is, so use it as if you 
did not possess it; and so accustom your 
eyes to refrain from sinful objects, as if you 
were blind. Now they who from their 
youth are careful in this respect, will not 
find much difficulty in avoiding other vices: 
but they who are not so careful, will find a 
difficulty; though by the grace of God, 
they can be enabled to change their life, 
and to avoid this most dangerous snare. 

But some one may perhaps reply: Why 
did God create such beautiful men and 
women, if He did not wish us to look fit 
them, and admire them? The answer is 
easy and two-fold. God created male and 
female for marriage ; for thus He spoke in 
the beginning: "It is not good for man to 
be alone : let us make him a help like unto 
himself." Man does not require the aid of 
the woman, except in bringing forth and 
educating children, as we have already 
proved from St. Augustine. But man and 
wife would not easily agree, nor willingly 
live together their life-time, unless beauty 
had a share in producing love. Since, 
therefore, the woman was made beautiful 
that she might be loved by her husband, 
she cannot be loved by another with a 
carnal love ; wherefore it is said in the 
law : " Thou shalt not covet thy neigh- 


bour s wife;" and to husbands the j 
speaks: "Husbands love your wives." 
There are many good and beautiful things, 
which ought not to be desired but by those 
only with whom they agree. The use of 
meat and wine is good for those in health, 
but not always to those who are ill. So in 
the same manner after the resurrection, the 
beauty of men and women may be safely 
loved by all of us, for then we shall not pos 
sess the carnal concupiscence under which 
we now groan. Wherefore we must not be 
surprised in being permitted to admire the 
beauty of the sun, and moon, and stars, 
and flowers, which do not nourish concu 
piscence ; and in not being allowed to gaze 
with pleasure on beautiful men and women, 
because the sight might perhaps increase or 
nourish carnal concupiscence. 

After the sense of sight comes that of 
hearing, which ought to be no less dili 
gently guarded than the former. But with 
the ears the "tongue" must be joined, 
which is the instrument of speech: for 
words, whether good or bad, are not heard 
except when pronounced first by the tongue. 
And as the tongue, unless most carefully 
guarded, is the cause of many evils, there 
fore does St. James say: " He that offends 
not in word, the same is a perfect man:" 
and a little further: " Behold how small a 
fire what a great wood it kindleth ! And 
the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity." 
(chap. iii. 5.) In this passage the Apostle 


teaches us three things. First, that to 
guard the tongue carefully is a most diffi 
cult thing; and therefore that there are 
few, and those only perfect men, who know 
effectually how to do this. Secondly, that 
from an evil tongue, the greatest injuries 
and mischief may arise in a very short 
time. This is explained by a comparison 
taken from a spark, which unless immedi 
ately extinguished, can consume a whole 
forest. Thus, one word incautiously spoken, 
may excite suspicions of another s guilt, 
from which quarrels, contentions, strifes, 
homicides, and the ruin of a whole family 
may arise. St. James, in fine, teaches that 
an evil tongue is not merely an evil thing 
in itself alone, but that it includes a multi 
tude of evils ; therefore he calls it a " world 
of iniquity." For by its means, nearly all 
crimes are either devised, as adulteries and 
thefts; or perpetrated, as perjuries and false 
testimonies ; or defended, as when the impi 
ous excuse the evil they have committed, or 
pretend to have done the good they did not. 
And again, the evil tongue may justly be 
called "a world of iniquity," because by 
the tongue man sins against God by blas 
phemy or perjury; against his neighbour by 
detraction and back-biting; and against 
himself, by boasting of good works which 
he has not done in reality; and by asserting 
that he did not do the evil things which he 
did. In addition to the testimony of St. 
James, I will add that of the prophet Da- 


vid: " Lord, deliver my soul from wicked 
lips, and a deceitful tongue." (Psalm cxix.) 
If this holy king was fearful of a wicked and 
deceitful tongue, what ought private indivi 
duals to do ; and much more, if they are not 
only private, but poor, weak, and obscure ? 
The prophet adds : " What shall be given 
to thee, or what shall be added to thee, to 
a deceitful tongue?" The words are ob 
scure on account of the peculiarity of the 
Hebrew structure ; but the sense appears to 
be this : Not without cause do I fear a 
wicked and deceitful tongue, because it is 
such a great evil that no other can be added 
to it. The prophet proceeds: " The sharp 
arrows of the mighty, with coals that lay 
waste." In these words, by an elegant 
comparison, he declares how great an evil 
a dececitful tongue is ; for the prophet com 
pares it to a fiery arrow shot by a strong 
hand. Arrows strike at a distance, and 
with such quickness, that they can scarcely 
be avoided. Then arrows to which the 
deceitful tongue is compared, are said to 
be sent forth by a strong hand. Thirdly, 
it is added, that these arrows are sharp, 
that is, they are well polished and sharp 
ened by a skilful workman. In fine, it is 
said, that they are like unto desolating 
coals, that is, fiery, so that they can " lay 
waste " any thing, however strong and 
hard : hence, a wicked and deceitful tongue 
is not so much like unto the arrows of men, 
as to the arrows of heaven .lightning, 


which nothing can resist. This description 
of the prophet, of a wicked and deceit 
ful tongue, is such, that 110 evil can be 
imagined greater. 

But that the truth may be more clearly 
understood, I will mention two examples 
from Scripture. The first, that of the 
wicked Doe g the Idumean, who accused 
the priest Achimelech to king Saul, of 
having conspired with David against him : 
this was a downright calumny and impos 
ture. But because Saul, at that time, was 
not well disposed towards David, he easily 
believed everything, and ordered that^ not 
only the priest Achimelech should be killed 
immediately, but all the other priests, in 
number about eighty-five, who had not 
committed the least offence against the 
king. But Saul, not content with this 
slaughter, ordered those to be slain also 
who dwelt in the city nobe ; and not only 
did his cruelty extend to men and women, 
but even to children, and infants, and ani 
mals. 0_f this wicked and deceitful tongue 
of Doiig, it is probable that David spoke _ in 
the psalm mentioned above, part of which 
I explained. 

From this example we may learn, how 
productive of evil is a deceitful and wicked 

The other example I will take from the 
gospel of St. Mark:. When the daughter 
of Herodias danced before Herod the Te- 
trarch and his courtiers, she gained his 


favour to such a degree that he swore be 
fore all the company, he would give the girl 
whatever she asked, though it were half his 
kingdom. But the daughter first asked her 
mother Herodias what she should demand ; 
she told her to ask for the head of St. John 
the Baptist. This was demanded, and soon 
was the head of the Baptist brought in on a 
dish. What crimes were there here ! The 
mother sinned most grievously, in request 
ing a most unjust thing ; Herod sinned no 
less grievously, by ordering a most inno 
cent man to be killed, who was the precur 
sor of our Lord and "more than a pro 
phet," than whom no greater had arisen 
among those born of women : and with 
out his cause being heard, without judg 
ment, at the time of a solemn banquet, the 
demand of the girl was granted ! But let 
us hear the punishment, as we have seen 
the evils of the crime. Herod being a 
short time after deprived of his government 
by the emperor Gains, was sent into perpe 
tual banishment. Thus he who swore that 
he would give away half of his kingdom, 
exchanged that kingdom for perpetual exile, 
as Josephus mentions in his "Antiquities." 
The daughter of Herodias, whose dancing 
was the cause of St. John s death, crossing 
some ice, it broke under her and she fell in 
with her whole body except her head, which 
being cut from the body, rolled about on 
the ice; thus all might see what was the 
cause of her miserable death. In fine, He- 


rodias herself soon died broken-hearted, 
and followed her daughter to the torments 
of hell. Nicephorus Callistus relates this 
tragedy in his History. Behold, what 
crimes and what punishment followed the 
rash and foolish oath taken by Herod the 

We will now mention the remedies which 
prudent men are accustomed to use against 
sins of the tongue. The holy prophet Da 
vid, in the beginning of the xxxviii. Psalm, 
speaks of the remedy he used ; " I said : I 
will take heed to my ways, that I sin not 
with my tongue." This means, that I 
may guard against sins of the tongue, I will 
carefully mind my ways ; for I will neither 
speak, nor think, nor do anything, unless I 
first examine and weigh what I am about 
to do or speak. 

These are the paths by which men walk 
in this life. Wherefore the remedy against 
evil w r ords, and not only a.gainst these, but 
against deeds also, and thoughts, and de 
sires, is to think beforehand on what we are 
about to do, or speak, or desire. And this 
is the character of men, not to do anything 
rashly, but to consider what is to be 
done ; and if it agree with sound reason, to 
do it ; but if not, not to do it. And what 
we say of actions, may be applied to speech, 
desires, and other works of a rational 

But if all cannot consider beforehand on 
what they are about to do or speak, cer- 


tainly there can be no prudent man, de 
sirous of his eternal salvation, who will not 
every morning of each day, before he com 
mences his business, approach to God in 
prayer, and beg of Him to direct his ways, 
his actions, his words, desires, and thoughts,, 
to the greater glory of God, and the salvation 
of his own soul. Then, at the close of the 
day, before he lies down to sleep, he should 
examine his conscience and ask himself, 
whether he has offended God in thought, 
word, or deed ; and if he shall find that he 
has committed any sin, especially a mortal 
one, let him not dare to close his eyes in 
sleep, before he first reconcile himself to 
God by true repentance, and make a firm 
resolution so to guard his ways, as not to 
offend in word, or deed, or desire. 

With regard to the sense of " hearing," 
a few remarks must be made. When the 
tongue is restrained by reason from utter 
ing evil words, nothing can injure the sense 
of hearing. There are four kinds of words, 
against which in particular the sense of 
hearing must be closed, lest through it evil 
words should enter the heart and corrupt 
it. The first are words against Faith, which 
human curiosity often listens to with plea 
sure : and yet if these penetrate the heart, 
they deprive it of Faith, which is the root 
and beginning of all good. ISow no words 
of infidels are more pernicious than those 
which deny, either the providence of God, 
or the immortality of the soul : for such asr 


sertipns make men not merely heretics, but 
atheists, and thus open the door to all kinds 
of wickedness. Another class of evil words 
regards detraction, which is eagerly lis 
tened to, but which destroys fraternal cha 
rity. Holy David, who was a man accord 
ing to God s own heart, says in the Psalms: 
" Instead of making me a return of love, 
they detracted me : but I gave myself to 
prayer." And since detraction is often 
heard at table, St. Augustine placed these 
verses over his dining-table : 

" Quisquis amat dictis absentftm rodero vitam, 
Hanc mensam iiidignam noverit esse sibi."* 

The third species of evil words consists in 
flattery, which is willingly heard by men ; 
and yet it produces pride and vanity, the 
former of which is the queen of vices, and 
is most hateful to God. A fourth kind 
consists in using immodest and amatory 
words in lascivious songs : to the lovers of 
this world nothing is sweeter, though no 
thing can be more dangerous than such 
words and songs. Lascivious songs are 
the songs of syrens, who enchant men, and 
then plunge them into the sea and devour 

Against all these dangers there is a salu 
tary remedy, to keep with good company, 
but most carefully to avoid evil company. 
Men, when in the presence of those whom 

* " This board allows no vile detractor place, 

Whose tongue doth love the absent to disgrace." 


they have either not seen before, or with 
whom they are not familiar, have not the 
boldness to detract their neighbour, or to 
make use of heretical, or flattering, or las 
civious expressions. Wherefore Solomon, 
in the beginning of Proverbs, thus ex 
presses his first precept: "My son, hear 

the instructions of thy father, &c My 

son, if sinners shall entice thee, consent 
not to them. If they shall say : Come with 
us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us hide 
snares for the innocent without cause : let 
us swallow him up alive like hell, and whole 
as one that goeth down into the pit. We 
shall find all precious substance, and shall 
fill our houses with spoils. Cast in thy lot 
with us, let us all have one purse. My 
son, walk not thou with them, restrain thy 
foot from their paths. For their feet run 
to evil, and make haste to shed blood. 
And they themselves lie in wait for their 
own blood, and practise deceits against their 
own souls. * (chap. i. 10, &c.) This ad 
vice of a most wise man, affords an easy 
remedy, to keep the sense of hearing from 
being corrupted by evil words ; especially if 
we add the words of pur Lord, who has 
said : " A man s enemies shall be they of 
his own household." 

The third sense is our smell, of which 
nothing can be said, for it relates to odours 
that possess little power in corrupting the 
soul ; and the odours of flowers are harm- 


I come therefore to the fourth sense, the 
sense of taste. The sins that enter the 
soul and corrupt it by this gate, are two 
fold, gluttony and drunkenness ; from these 
many other sins follow. Against these 
vices we have the admonition of our Lord in 
St. Luke : " Take heed to yourselves, lest 
perhaps your hearts be overcharged with 
surfeiting and drunkenness, etc." Another 
admonition is given by St. Paul, in his 
Epistle to the Romans : " Let us walk 
honestly as in the day: not in rioting and 
drunkenness." These two sins are num 
bered in the Holy Scriptures with other 
grievous crimes, as St. Paul mentions: 
" Now the works of the flesh are manifest, 
which are, fornication, uncleanness, immo 
desty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, tfcc. 

Murders, drunkenness, revellings, and 

such like. Of the which I foretell you, as 
I have foretold to you, that they who do 
such things shall not obtain the kingdom of 
God." (Epistle to .Galatians, v. 19, &c.) 
But this is not the only punishment of such 
sins : for they also deaden the soul, so as to 
make it totally unfit for the contemplation 
of heavenly things. This our Saviour 
teaches us ; and St. Basil in his sermon on 
" Fasting," illustrates it by two very apt 
comparisons. The first is taken from the 
sun and from vapours: "As those thick 
vapours which rise from damp and wet 
places, cover the heavens with clouds and 
prevent the rays of the sun from reaching 


us; so also from surfeiting and drunken 
ness, smoke and vapour as it were rise 
within us, that obscure our reason, and de 
prive us of the rays of divine light." The 
other comparison is taken from smoke and 
bees. "As bees are expelled from their 
hives by smoke, so also the wisdom of God 
is expelled by revellings and drunkenness ; 
and this wisdom is, as it were, like a bee 
in our soul, producing the honey of virtue, 
of grace, and every heavenly consolation." 
Moreover, drunkenness injures the health 
of the body also. A doctor named Anti- 
phanes, most skilful in his profession, as 
serted, as Clement of Alexandria informs 
us in the second book of his "Padagogus," 
that almost the only cause of every disease 
was, too much food and drink. On the 
other hand, St. Basil tells us, that he 
thought "Abstinence" might be called the 
parent of health. And indeed physicians 
in general, in order to restore health to 
a diseased body, always order their patient 
to abstain from meat and wine. Again: 
drunkenness and revellings not only injure 
the health of the soul and body, but also 
our domestic interests: how many from 
being rich have become poor; how many 
from masters have become servants, and 
all by drunkenness ! This vice also de 
prives many poor people of the alms of tho 
rich ; for they who are not content with 
moderate meat and drink, easily spend 
their whole substance upon their own plea- 


sures, so that nothing remains for their 
needy brethren : thus are the words of tho 
Apostle fulfilled: " And one indeed is hun- 
grv, and another is drunk." 

vYe will now mention some remedies. 
The example of the saints may serve as one 
remedy against these sins. I omit the her 
mits and monks whom St. Jerome men 
tions in his Epistle-" to Eustochius ; he tella 
her, that amongst them anything "cooked" 
was a luxury. I will not dwell on St. Am 
brose, who, as Paulinus mentions in his life, 
fasted every day except Sundays and solemn 
festivals. I will not speak of St. Augus 
tine, who, as Possidius testifies, used only 
herbs and legumes at his table, and had 
meat only for strangers and guests. But if 
we attentively consider how the Lord of all 
things was Himself in want, when in the 
desert he undertook to feed the multitude, 
we shall doubtless soon acquire "Sobriety." 
God, who alone is powerful, alone wise, 
alone bountiful, and who could and who 
wished to provide in the best manner possi 
ble for His beloved people, for forty years 
rained down upon them only Manna, and 
gave them water from a rock. Manna was 
food not much differing from flour mixed 
with honey, as we are told in the book of 
Exodus. Behold how moderately our most 
wise God fed and nourished His people; 
their food, cake; their drink, water; and 

* De Cnstodia Virginitatis. 


yet all continued to enjoy good health, until 
they began to long after flesh. 

Christ Jesus, the Son of God, after the 
example of His Father, " in whom are hid 
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," 
when He feasted so many thousands of the 
people, placed before them only a few loaves 
and fishes, and water for drink. And not 
only when our Saviour was yet in the world, 
did He give His hearers such a repast, but 
after His resurrection also, when " all power 
had been given unto Him in heaven and on 
earth," meeting His disciples on the sea 
shore, He feasted them on bread and fish 
alone, and this very frugally. O how diffe 
rent are the ways of God from the ways of 
men ! The King of heaven and earth re 
joices in simplicity and sobriety, and is 
chiefly solicitous to fill, enrich, and exhila 
rate the soul. But men prefer listening to 
their concupiscence and their enemy the 
devil before God. Thus we may say with 
the Apostle, that the god of carnal men is 
"their belly." 

The sense of " touch" comes next, which 
of all the senses is the most lively and 
fleshy, by which many sins enter to defile 
our own soul as well as the souls of others ; 
such as the works of the flesh, which St. 
Paul enumerates when he says : " Now the 
w r orks of the flesh are manifest, which are 
fornication, uncleanness, immodesty," &c. 
By these three words the Apostle includes 
all kinds of impurities. Nor is there any 


necessity to dwell more at length on these 
sins, which the faithful ought rather to be 
ignorant of, and the names of which ought 
never to be heard amongst them. Thus 
does St. Paul speak in his Epistle to the 
Ephesians: "But fornication and all un- 
cleanness, let it not be so much as named 
amongst you as becometh saints/ Against 
all these crimes the following seem to me 
to be the remedies, and they are such as 
physicians use to cure the sick. First, 
they begin with fasting or abstinence, they 
forbid the patients meat and wine. So 
must every one do the same who is given to 
luxury, he must abstain from eating and 
drinking too much. This the Apostle pre 
scribes to Timothy : " Use a little wine for 
thy stomach s sake, and thy frequent infir 
mities." (1st to Timothy 23.) That is, use 
wine on the account of the weakness of your 
stomach, but only moderately ^ to avoid 
drunkenness, for in much wine is luxury. 
Again, physicians give bitter medicine, 
bleed the "body, make incisions, and do 
other things painful to nature. So did the 
saints say with the Apostle, " But I chas 
tise my body and bring it into subjection, 
lest perhaps when I have preached to others, 
I myself should become a cast-away." (1st 
Epistle to Corinth, chap. ix. 27.) Hence 
the ancient hermits and anchorets led a 
life quite opposed to the pleasures and de 
light of the flesh, in fastings and watchings, 
lying on the ground in sackcloth and chas- 


tisements ; and this they did, not so much 
through hatred to their body, as to the con 
cupiscences of the flesh. I will mention 
one example out of many. St^ Jerome 
mentions in the life of St. Hilarian, that 
when he felt himself tempted by impure 
thoughts, he thus addressed his body: "I 
will not let you kick, nor will I feed you 
with corn, but with chaff; I will tame you 
by hunger and thirst ; I will load you with 
heavy weights, and accustom you to heat 
and cold, so that you shall think more of 
food than of pleasure." 

Again: in order to exercise the^body, 
physicians prescribe walking, playing at 
ball, or any other like exercise; so also in 
order to preserve the health of the soul, we 
ought, if truly desirous of our salvation, to 
spend some time every day in meditating 
on the mysteries of our redemption, or the 
four last things, or some other pious sub 
jects. And if we cannot of ourselves furnish 
subjects for meditation, we should spend 
some time in reading the Holy Scriptures, 
the Lives of the Saints, or some other good 

In fine, a powerful remedy against temp 
tations of the flesh and all sins of impurity, 
is to fly idleness ; for no one is more ex 
posed to such temptations, than he who has 
nothing to do, who spends his time in gazing 
at people put of the window, or in chatting 
with his friends, tkc. But on the contrary, 
none are more free from impure temptations, 


than those who spend the whole clay in 
agricultural labours and in other arts. 1 or 
our example in this respect, our Saviour 
chose poor parents, that by His own labour 
He miffht procure food for them; and 
before He began the labours of his mission, 
He allowed Himself to be called the Son ot 
a carpenter, whom He assisted in his work. 
It was said of Him, " Is not this the car 
penter, the Son of Mary?" I may add, 
that working men and peasants should be 
content with their lot, since the wisdom ot 
God chose that state for Himself, His 
Mother, and His reputed Father; not be 
cause they stood in need of such remedies, 
but that they might admonish us to fly 
idleness, if we wish- tor avoid many sins.