CH. XXVIII. OF THE DEVIL'S ASSAULTS AND DEVICES AGAINST THOSE WHOM HE HOLDS IN THE BONDAGE OF SIN.
WHEN the devil holds a man in the bondage of sin, his chief care is to blind his eyes more and more, and to avert from him every thing which might lead to a knowledge of his most wretched condition.
And not only does he, by instilling contrary thoughts, drive from him all reflections and inspirations which call him to conversion, but, by affording him ready opportunities, he makes him fall into other and greater sins. Hence, the thicker and darker waxes his blindness, the more desperate and habitual becomes his course of sin; and thus, from blindness to deeper blindness, from sin to fouler sin, his wretched life will whirl on even unto death, unless God, by His grace, should intervene to save him. The remedy for one in this unhappy condition is, to be ready to give diligent heed to the thoughts and inspirations which call him from darkness to light, crying with all his heart to his Creator, "O Lord, help me; help me speedily; leave me not any longer in the darkness of sin." And let him not fail to repeat this cry for mercy over and over again in these or the like words.
If possible, let him have immediate recourse to some spiritual guide, and ask aid and counsel, that so he may be delivered from the power of the enemy.
And if he cannot do this at the moment, let him fly with all speed to the crucifix, prostrating himself before it; and asking mercy and aid also from the Mother of God.
On this speed does the victory depend, as you will learn in the next chapter.
CH. XXIX. - OF THE ARTS AND STRATAGEMS BY WHICH HE HOLDS IN BONDAGE THOSE WHO KNOWING THEIR MISERY, WOULD FAIN BE FREE; AND HOW IT IS THAT OUR RESOLUTIONS PROVE SO OFTEN INEFFECTUAL.
WHEN a man begins to perceive the evil of his of life, and to desire to change it, the devil often deludes and overcomes him by such means as these:
"Cras, cras" (tomorrow, tomorrow) as the raven cries.
"I wish first to consider and dispatch this business, this perplexity, that I may then be able to give myself with greater tranquillity to spiritual things."
This is a snare in which many men have been, and are still daily, entangled; and the cause of this is our own negligence and heedlessness, seeing that, in a matter touching the honor of God and the salvation of the soul, we neglect to seize instantly that effectual weapon: "Now, now;" wherefore "presently?" "Today, today;" wherefore "tomorrow?" saying each one to himself :
"Even supposing this `presently' and this `tomorrow' should be granted to me, is it the way of safety and of victory to seek first to be wounded and to commit fresh disorders?"
You see, then, that the way to escape this snare, and that mentioned in the preceding chapter, and to subdue the enemy, is, to yield prompt obedience to all heavenly thoughts and inspirations.
Prompt obedience, I say, and not mere resolutions; for these are often fallacious, and many have been deceived thereby from various causes.
1st. Because our resolutions are not founded upon selfdistrust and trust in God. But our excessive pride, whence proceeds this blindness and delusion, prevents our perceiving it.
The light to see and the medicine to cure it both proceed from the goodness of God who suffers us to fall that He may recall us thereby from selfconfidence to confidence in Him alone, and from pride to selfknowledge.
Your resolutions, therefore, to be effectual, must be steadfast; and to be steadfast, they must be free from all selfconfidence, and humbly based on confidence in God.
2dly. When we are making our resolutions, we dwell on the beauty and excellence of virtue, which attracts our will, slack and feeble as it is; but when confronted by the difficulties which attend the attainment of virtue, the weak and untried will fails and draws back.
Learn, therefore, to love the difficulties which attend the attainment of all virtues more than even the virtues themselves, and use these difficulties in various measures to strengthen your will, if you desire in good earnest to acquire these virtues.
And know, that the more courageously and lovingly you shall embrace these difficulties, the more speedy and complete shall be your victory over self and all your other enemies.
3dly. In our resolutions we too often look rather to our own advantage than to the will of God and the acquisition of the virtues He requires of us. This is frequently the case with resolutions made in times of great spiritual joy or acute sorrow, when we seem unable to find any relief but in a resolution to give ourselves wholly to God and to the practice of virtue.
To avoid this snare, take care in times of spiritual consolation to be very cautious and humble in your resolutions, especially in your vows and promises; and in tribulation let your resolution be to bear your cross patiently, according to the will of God, nay, to exalt it, refusing all earthly, and if so be even all heavenly consolation. Let your one desire, your one prayer, be that God would help you to bear all adverse things, keeping the virtue of patience unstained, and giving no displeasure to your Lord.
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