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"Neither canst thou be delivered nor eased by any remedy or comfort ; for so long as it pleaseth God, thou must bear it.
“For God will have thee learn to suffer tribulation without comfort; and that thou submit thyself wholly to him, and by tribulation become more humble.
“No man hath in his heart a sympathy with the passion of Christ so much as he that hath suffered the like himself.
“The Cross therefore is always ready and everywhere waits for thee. Thou canst not escape it whithersoever thou runnest ; for wheresoever thou goest, thou carriest thyself with thee.
“Both above and below, without and within, which way soever thou dost turn thee, everywhere thou shalt find the Cross, and everywhere of necessity thou must hold fast patience, if thou wilt have inward peace and enjoy an everlasting crown.
“If thou bear the Cross patiently, it will bear thee, and lead thee to the desired end, where there shall be an end of suffering, though here there shall not be.
"If thou bear it unwillingly, thou makest for thyself a burden, and increasest thy load, and yet notwithstanding thou must bear it.
“If thou cast away one cross, without doubt thou shalt find another, and that perhaps a more heavy one.
“Set thyself, therefore, like a good and faithful servant of Christ, to bear manfully the Cross of thy Lord, who out of love was crucified for thee.” (ii. 12).
But if Thomas knew that hardship of some kind besets every lot, he knew also something of the blessings and possibilities of blessedness that are within the reach of
all. Here is a series of his beatitudes that we may set beside the Gospel ones :
“Blessed is the soul that heareth the Lord speaking within her, and receiveth from his mouth the word of consolation.
“Blessed are the ears that gladly receive the pulses of the Divine whisper, and give no heed to the many whisperings of the world.
“ Blessed indeed are those ears which listen not after the voice which is sounding without, but for the truth teaching within.
“Blessed are the eyes which are shut to outward things, but intent on things internal.
“Blessed are they that enter far into inward things, and endeavour to prepare themselves more and more by daily exercises, for the receiving of heavenly secrets.
“Blessed are they who are glad to have time to spare for God, and shake off all worldly impediments.” (iv. I.)
The Imitation is a book that stimulates the desire to pray, and a great deal of it is in the form of prayer. Such is the well-known passage :
“The children of Israel in times past said unto Moses, Speak thou unto us, and we will hear ; let not the Lord speak unto us lest we die.'
“Not so, Lord, not so, I beseech thee; but rather with the prophet Samuel, I humbly and earnestly entreat, 'Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.'
“Let not Moses speak unto me, nor any of the prophets, but rather do thou speak, O Lord God, the inspirer and enlightener of all the prophets ; for thou, alone without them, canst perfectly instruct me, but they, without thee, can profit nothing.'
“They indeed may sound forth words, but they cannot give the Spirit.
"Most beautifully do they speak, but if thou be silent, they inflame not the heart.
“They teach the letter, but thou openest the sense ; they bring forth mysteries, but thou unlockest the meaning of sealed things.
“They declare thy commandments, but thou helpest us to fulfil them.
“They point out the way, but thou givest strength to walk in it.
"They work outwardly only, but thou instructest and enlightenest the heart.
"They water, but thou givest the increase. They cry aloud in words, but thou impartest understanding.
"Let not Moses speak unto me, but thou, O Lord, my God, the Everlasting Truth; lest I die and prove unfruitful, if I be only warned outwardly and not inflamed within.
“Lest it turn to my condemnation-the Word heard and not fulfilled, known and not loved, believed and not observed.
"Speak, therefore, Lord, for thy servant heareth ; for thou hast the words of eternal life.
"Speak thou unto me, to the comfort, however imperfect, of my soul, and to the amendment of my whole life, and to thy praise and glory and honour everlasting." (iii. 2.)
The Imitation, we remember, was written more especially for those who had made religion their vocation ; and so, with a prayer written for their use, we may fittingly conclude: “O Almighty God do thou assist us with thy grace, that we who have undertaken the office of the ministry may be able to wait on thee worthily and devoutly in all purity and with a good conscience. And if we cannot walk in such innocency of life as we ought to do, grant to us at least worthily to lament the sins which we have committed, and, in the spirit of humility and the purpose of a good will, to serve thee more earnestly for the time to come.” (iv. II.)
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES' INTRODUCTION TO
THE DEVOUT LIFE ST. FRANCIS DE SALES was born at Annecy, about 22 miles from Geneva, in 1567, and died in 1622. He belonged to an old family of wealth and consideration in the neighbourhood, and the family had remained loyal to the Catholic Church when most of the population around had turned Protestant at the Reformation. At the end of his school days, he was sent to Paris for a course of study which lasted about seven years; and from there he went to Padua to learn law, as his father intended him for the legal profession. He was four years at Padua, and on his return home he found that he had been appointed Advocate to the Senate of Savoy. But his real interests had all along been in religion, and at length he wrung from his father a reluctant consent to his devoting himself to the vocation on which his heart was set. In 1593 he was made Provost of the Chapter of the Cathedral at Geneva. Soon by his preaching, and the charm of his personality, and the consecration of his life, his influence began to be felt. He had already made some notable conversions from the Calvinism of which Geneva was the headquarters, when, in 1594, he undertook what seemed to others a forlorn hope-a mission to win back the Chablais district to the Catholic allegiance. With only one companion, his cousin, he set out and reached Thonon, the principal town of the Chablais,