By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Conscience and Sin - Daily Meditations for Lent
Author: Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Conscience and Sin - Daily Meditations for Lent" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

(This file was produced from images generously made


  Conscience and Sin.










It is advisable that all should have a clear understanding as to the
nature of Conscience, the dangers to which Conscience is liable, the
Nature of Sin, and the Effects of Sin. Too many people go on easily
from day to day making no spiritual advance, because they do not know
what ails their Consciences, do not even suspect that their Consciences
are ailing, and so make no effort to escape from their unsatisfactory
condition. It is hoped that this little book of meditations may be of
use to such.


  Ash Wednesday--
      ON CONSCIENCE                                                    1

  First Thursday in Lent--
      THE NATURE OF CONSCIENCE                                         4

  First Friday in Lent--
      THE NATURE OF CONSCIENCE--_continued_                            6

  First Saturday in Lent--
      THE OBLIGATIONS OF CONSCIENCE                                    9

  First Sunday in Lent--
      CAUSES OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF CONSCIENCE                         12

  First Monday in Lent--
      CAUSES OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF CONSCIENCE--_continued_            15

  First Tuesday in Lent--
          Direct Conscience_                                          18

  Second Wednesday in Lent--
      THE FALSE CONSCIENCE                                            21

  Second Thursday in Lent--
      THE SCRUPULOUS CONSCIENCE                                       24

  Second Friday in Lent--
      THE RELAXED CONSCIENCE                                          27

  Second Saturday in Lent--
      THE DOUBTFUL CONSCIENCE                                         30

  Second Sunday in Lent--
      ON PRUDENCE                                                     33

  Second Monday in Lent--
      ON FORTITUDE                                                    36

  Second Tuesday in Lent--
      ON SIN--_The Nature of Sin_                                     39

  Third Wednesday in Lent--
      THE NATURE OF SIN--_continued_                                  42

  Third Thursday in Lent--
      THE NATURE OF SIN--_continued_                                  45

  Third Friday in Lent--
      SOURCES OF SIN                                                  48

  Third Saturday in Lent--
      TEMPTATIONS TO SIN                                              51

  Third Sunday in Lent--
      THE GENESIS OF SIN                                              54

  Third Monday in Lent--
      ON ORIGINAL SIN                                                 57

  Third Tuesday in Lent--
      THE EVIDENCE FOR ORIGINAL SIN                                   60

  Fourth Wednesday in Lent--
      ACTUAL SIN                                                      63

  Fourth Thursday in Lent--
      THE CONDITIONS OF SIN                                           66

  Fourth Friday in Lent--
      CONDITIONS THAT DIMINISH GUILT                                  69

  Fourth Saturday in Lent--
      CONDITIONS THAT AGGRAVATE GUILT                                 72

  Fourth Sunday in Lent--
      ON FREE WILL                                                    75

  Fourth Monday in Lent--
      THE DETERMINATION OF THE WILL                                   78

  Fourth Tuesday in Lent--
      PRACTICAL CONCLUSIONS                                           81

  Fifth Wednesday in Lent--
      THE GRAVITY OF SIN                                              83

  Fifth Thursday in Lent--
      THE GRAVITY OF SIN--_continued_                                 86

  Fifth Friday in Lent--
      THE EFFECTS OF SIN                                              89

  Fifth Saturday in Lent--
      THE EFFECTS OF SIN--_continued_                                 92

  Fifth Sunday in Lent--
      THE DEADLY VICES                                                95

  Fifth Monday in Lent--
      IN WHAT THE VICES ARE ROOTED                                    98

  Fifth Tuesday in Lent--
      PRIDE                                                          101

  Sixth Wednesday in Lent--
      AVARICE                                                        104

  Sixth Thursday in Lent--
      LUXURY                                                         107

  Sixth Friday in Lent--
      ENVY                                                           110

  Sixth Saturday in Lent--
      GLUTTONY                                                       113

  Palm Sunday--
      ANGER                                                          115

  Monday in Holy Week--
      SLOTH                                                          117

  Tuesday in Holy Week--
      THE SACRIFICE FOR SIN                                          120

  Wednesday in Holy Week--
      THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST                                        123

  Thursday in Holy Week--
      THE EFFECTS OF CHRIST'S SACRIFICE                              125

  Good Friday--
      THE EFFECTS OF THE PASSION--_continued_                        128

  Easter Eve--
      THE APPLICATION OF THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST                     131

Conscience and Sin.

Ash Wednesday.


God has created man for a purpose, and that purpose is, that he should
attain to everlasting blessedness.

God is good and loving unto all His works. He made the plants and the
beasts, and set them ends to accomplish here on earth, but the ends for
which man was made are not to be attained in this life.

Through the Fall man's mind is darkened, his connexion with God is
broken, his sight of the aim to which he should tend is obscured.
God has given to him His law as the rule of his actions, that man,
hearkening to the revealed Will of God, may be guided aright, and
so accomplish that end for which he was made, and attain finally to
everlasting blessedness.

Every act of man that is in conformity with the revealed law of God is

Every act of man that is contrary to this revealed law of God is _bad_.

Every act that is in conformity with the law of God is not only
_actually_ good, but it is _relatively_ good--that is to say, it tends
to our individual advantage. It is not only good in the sight of God,
but it is profitable to our own selves.

So also is the converse true, that every act done against the law of
God is _actually_ and _relatively_ bad; it is bad in the sight of God,
and it does injury to our own selves.

Now, in order that we may be able to judge whether our acts are in
conformity with the law of God, He has set in us a faculty which has
the office of applying the law of God to our own circumstances; and
this faculty tells us whether our acts are in conformity with or
contrary to the external law of God. Thus we have the exterior law, and
the interior faculty, which we may almost term a law, and this inner
law is called _Conscience_.

II. The revealed law of God, considered in itself and in relation to
God, its Author, is holy, inviolable, and inalterable. "The law of the
Lord is perfect, converting (_or_ restoring) the soul; the testimony
of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord
are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for
ever; the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether....
In them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping them there is great
reward." (Ps. xix. 7-11.)

But though the revealed law of God is fixed and immutable, yet when
applied to the human Conscience it takes different forms, according to
the state of the Conscience.

Hence it follows that the divine law _ill-applied_, so far from being
a sure rule, may become perverted into a sanction whereby we evade the
obligations laid on us, and authorize ourselves to commit that which is

We shall therefore have to consider:--

1. The nature of Conscience.

2. The obligation of obeying Conscience.

3. The different kinds of Conscience.

4. The rules of conduct relative to each sort of Conscience.


First Thursday in Lent.


1. Conscience, which is the gift of God bestowed on all men, Christian
and heathen, is that practical judgment which points out to us what to
avoid or what to do in any particular emergency that may arise. Just
as we may know that there are certain laws of nature, and our ready
commonsense tells us, when varying circumstances arise, how we are to
act so that the laws of nature may be to our advantage instead of to
our overthrow, so is Conscience the commonsense application of the
indwelling consciousness of the distinction between right and wrong
to emergencies, as they rise up and demand of us a choice between one
course or another.

2. Conscience has a threefold exercise of its judgment.

(_a_) _Before an action_ takes place, Conscience throws light on the
action contemplated or proposed, tells us its moral value, and if the
Conscience judges that it is _good_, then it counsels and permits
the act. If, however, the Conscience judges that it is bad, then it
dissuades from, and forbids the act.

(_b_) _During an action_ Conscience is active, and in spite of all the
clouds of prejudice and of passion that may have risen up, it bears
testimony to the true nature of our conduct, it either encourages
us to carry it through, not to be supine about it, not to abandon it
before it is completed, and so leave it imperfectly accomplished, but
to carry it through to the end, thoroughly and completely. Or else,
Conscience does not cease from turning us aside from the prosecution of
the act which it disapproves; it acts as a drag, a check, and unless
resisted will completely arrest us in the prosecution of that which it
esteems to be bad.

(_c_) _After an action_, Conscience recompenses us by the satisfaction
we feel, the approval it accords to us for having either accomplished
what it advised, or for having abandoned that conduct which it
disapproved. So S. Paul speaks of people being "a law unto themselves,"
shewing "the work of the law written in their hearts, their Conscience
bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else
excusing, one another." (Rom. ii. 14, 15.) This is the "testimony of
the Conscience," "the answer of the good Conscience" to which both S.
Paul and S. Peter appeal.

3. We have seen that Conscience instructs, judges, and rewards or
punishes; but we must consider further, that Conscience does not
control the will of man, it merely dictates to the will what is right,
and warns it as to what is wrong. It uses no constraint. Man's will
is free; Conscience clears the eyes of the mind, and shews it what
conduces to welfare, and what to destruction, but it neither impels man
irresistibly into the former course, nor holds him back forcibly from
taking the other. It shows man what is medicine and what is poison, but
it does not compel him to take one and reject the other, for the will
of man is absolutely _free_.

First Friday in Lent.



1. Conscience, in the order of religious life, is that which the Court
of Justice is in the order of public life, a court that has been
instituted by the legislature to keep discipline and well-being in the
State, to protect the individual in his person, his property, and his

Thus Conscience takes the general laws of God and explains them in
their bearings on our own conduct, and applies them to our several
cases. Also, Conscience sees to the execution of the law--that it shall
be obeyed as well as acknowledged. Also, Conscience punishes every
infraction of the law.

In other words, Conscience is the _interpreter_ of the law of God,
it is the _judge_ sitting in judgment on us for our observance or
non-observance of the law, and it is the _executioner_ carrying out the
sentence against us. As interpreter, Conscience enlightens us as to the
requirements of God, explains to us what is obscure, and smooths the
way so that our wills, enlightened and ready to act without impediment,
may take a direction one way or other.

An act does not become _just_ or _sinful_ till the will has consented
to the advice of the Conscience as interpreter, or has turned against
it and deliberately gone contrary to what it has laid down. Every
wilful sin is therefore a determinate revolt against God.

2. But Conscience is more than interpreter, judge and executioner; it
is also our _accuser_ and the _witness_ against us.

As accuser, it pursues the guilty everywhere, into the innermost
recesses of the thoughts.

It sees clearly, it knows all the circumstances, it declares with
unhesitating voice both what is the nature of the sin, and what is the
condition of the sinner. Thus to the office of accuser it unites that
of _witness_, presenting itself ever before the accused, with unshaken
testimony. It has seen all; it has seen all as it is; and it has
forgotten none of the circumstances.

As _judge_, it is enlightened with Divine illumination that pierces
through all the mists of prejudice and clouds of passion, and nothing
escapes from its vigilance.

As judge it is also severe, not easy and indifferent, for it has not
its own law or humour to obey, but the divine law, which it interprets
and administers.

It is just, for it stands in that position that it is between God, the
Lawgiver, on one side, and man, who breaks that law, on the other. If
it be inclined to over-leniency, if it be unjust, then Conscience is
itself corrupted. But we are not now speaking of Conscience degraded,
cajoled, bribed, and dishonest, but of the true Conscience as divinely
illumined and divinely directed to judge aright. And as just and
enlightened Conscience passes its judgment, and then takes up the
office of executioner. "If," says S. Paul, "we would judge ourselves
we should not be judged." That is to say, if we suffer our Consciences
to perform their proper function here in the time of life, to pass
sentence upon us justly, and execute the sentences passed, then there
would be no second judgment for us at the last. That judgment is needed
only because so many people refuse to permit Conscience to perform its
divinely-ordained work here in this life.

Then consider Conscience as the _executioner_. It punishes man here, to
work out his amendment. But if Conscience be not suffered to perform
its divinely allotted task here, then it will do it in eternity when
the time for amendment is over. That is the worm that dies not, that
the fire that is never extinguished. Conscience is given to us as
our executioner here in order to _improve_ us, not to torture us
unprofitably. It punishes us to work in us _repentance_. These are the
two operations of Conscience as executioner.


First Saturday in Lent.


1. As Conscience is a gift of God we are responsible to Him for the use
we make of it. Conscience is the moral faculty; as the eyes are organs
of the faculty of sight, the ears of the faculty of hearing, so has
Conscience the faculty of seeing and knowing and distinguishing right
from wrong. As God has given us sight and hearing we exercise these
faculties, and, what is more, cultivate them. So, as God has given us
the moral faculty, we exercise it, and cultivate it, if we desire to
fulfil the ends for which God has created us. God gives us eyes to see
our way, and not strike against walls, and fall into pits. So God has
given us Conscience to see our moral way, and not run into temptations,
and to avoid moral dangers.

2. As Conscience is that interior judgment which God has planted in us
to dictate to us what to do, and what to avoid, on special occasions,
then, to disobey the voice of Conscience is to disobey the Voice of
God. Not only so, but, as Conscience points out to us that a certain
course is one to which duty calls us, and we refuse to follow the
indication of Conscience, this is a revolt of the will against God,
and when the will, knowing what is right, deliberately chooses what is
wrong, it commits mortal sin. It was so with Adam and Eve. They knew
the Commandment of God, and wilfully went against His Commandment,
consequently they had turned away from their proper end, and turned
themselves into the camp of rebels against God.

3. When S. Paul says, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin," he is
speaking of the eating of meats offered to idols; and he shows how
that Conscience is the rule as to whether a thing is sinful or not.
Idols are naught, so that the things offered to idols are not actually
polluted by the oblation; nevertheless, if the Conscience refuses to
admit this, and argues that, as a meat has been offered to an idol, the
partaking of it is participation in idolatry, then to eat of the meat
that has been offered brings guilt on the soul. "He that doubteth is
damned if he eat." (Rom. xiv. 23.)

4. From this we may draw a practical conclusion that it is always
well to follow Conscience, even when Conscience, ill-instructed, may
be in error; that if Conscience disapprove of a course of conduct,
and yet may not understand clearly on what grounds it utters its
disapprobation, it is safest, indeed it is right, to obey Conscience,
and not take advantage of its hesitation.

That a Conscience may be ill-taught, and therefore in error, that
a Conscience may be perverted, we shall see presently; but what
appears to be abundantly clear is that it is advisable always to obey
Conscience in all things; but then we must be careful to have the
Conscience well-instructed, clearly illuminated, so that it may not be
hesitating, confused, and liable to direct us wrongly.

5. When Conscience hesitates, and is doubtful between two courses, it
is right to seek advice from such as are experienced in the direction
of Conscience.

Moreover, the Holy Spirit must be invoked to open the eyes of the
understanding, and guide into truth. When hesitation and doubt still
remain, then the safest course to adopt is that line of conduct which
is likely to entail most trouble, likely to cost us most, least likely
to attract notice from others; also, generally, if not always, the
simplest and most natural line is the right one; but self-interest, or
a disturbed moral sense, may incline one to take another line that is
not absolutely wrong in itself, but is less right because less natural,
and simple, and direct, and common-place than the other.


First Sunday in Lent.


1. Conscience as given by God to man is sound, vigorous, and direct.
It sees clearly what the truth is, and distinguishes at once good from

Whatever God gives is good, and God gives this faculty of
distinguishing between good and evil to man for a purpose, essential
to man, that he may follow his course, and attain to that end for
which God made him. Therefore, God certainly gave to man, originally,
a sound, sturdy, and clear-seeing Conscience, to be the pilot of his
vessel, the driver of his chariot, the legislator of his state. That we
may,--indeed, that we _must_ acknowledge. God Himself set man in the
world to accomplish a certain work, and He furnished him adequately for
the fulfilment of the task allotted to him.

2. _But_, man's Conscience is not what it was when God first made
man; it has been debilitated, it has been vitiated by original sin.
The first sin of Adam, and the sin that has issued from that original
fault, has formed a habit of sin in the human race, that infects,
weakens, in some cases paralyzes, the Conscience. So that it no longer
sees as clearly what is right and what is wrong, as at first; it has
no longer the same unhesitating voice; nor has it the same power
of influencing the will as at first, for the will itself has become
distorted. The unsettlement of Conscience has allowed the will to
become impatient of restraint, and to incline to follow other impulses
than that of the moral faculty. The will is also inclined to evil
through the poison of sin which has passed into the nature of all
men since the fall, and though, by Baptism, the antecedent guilt of
original sin is put away, yet its deteriorating effects are not all
removed. God receives us by Baptism into a state of grace, in which
state that which has been marred by the fall can be restored; but
the fact of Baptism does not at once restore, it only sets us in a
condition in which restoration is possible.

3. There are several causes operating on our Conscience which tend to
vitiate it:--

(_a_) _Ignorance_ of the Divine Will, and of the law of God for us.
Adam had a fully-enlightened Conscience, he knew uninstructed what was
God's purpose and what was God's Will, but it is not so with us, or
is so only in a very rudimentary and inadequate manner. We have to be
_taught_ the Will of God, and to learn His Commandments.

Consequently, it is incumbent on us to strive in every way to remove
this ignorance, by reading Scripture, by receiving instruction, and by
seeking after light by prayer.

(_b_) _Prejudice_, the result of ignorance and pride, or simply of
ignorance and a warped judgment, owing to false instruction. There
can be little chance through ignorance of going wrong in the main,
broad principles of duty to our neighbours, but imperfect teaching
or erroneous teaching relative to our duties to God, may well be
the cause of our failing to perform, or performing inadequately, or
performing wrongly our duties due to Him. Hence we require a sure moral
guide to expound to us the law of God, and this God has given us in His

(_c_) _Passion_, or concupiscence, which induces the Conscience to
permit whatever flatters or gratifies the body or the mind. S. Paul
says that in his natural state, "That which I do I allow not; for
what I would that do I not; but what I hate, that do I ... to will is
present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For
the good that I would I do not, but the evil that I would not, that
I do." He is here picturing himself in his old, carnal, unregenerate
state, but under grace, it is other, there Divine help is given to
enable the will to submit to the law of God and cast out the domination
of the carnal appetites.

(_d_) _Lax public opinion_, which sets up a low moral standard, and
brings Consciences to sleep, so long as they conform to public opinion,
and make that the rule _instead of the law of God_. This is a great
means of blunting and deadening Conscience, for it sets up man as a
supreme authority in morals in the place of God, it makes the judgments
of the world override the revealed Will of God.


First Monday in Lent.



Conscience may _command_, _forbid_, _advise_, _permit_.

(_a_) Conscience, when certain as to the moral right of a course
of action, utters its peremptory command that it shall be done. We
often are satisfied with a negative obedience, and consider ourselves
discharged from all obligation to render positive obedience. For the
commandments are negative. "Thou shalt not" do this or that. So, if
we abstain from murder, theft, adultery, &c., we are satisfied that
we are fulfilling the law. But in the Gospel the negative law, or law
of prohibition, is not only greatly expanded, but it is turned into a
positive law. "Thou shalt love God with all thy heart," &c., and "Thou
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." It is a bit of self-delusion
for anyone to suppose that he is fulfilling the law of his being if
he merely abstains from those things prohibited. We have positive
obligations laid on us, and these positive obligations the enlightened
and healthy Conscience points out to us. Not only must we abstain from
anger, but we must cultivate love. Not only must we avoid revenge, but
we must do good to them that despitefully use us and persecute us.
Not only must we avoid gluttony and drunkenness, but we must cultivate

(_b_) Conscience forbids the commission of those things which are
condemned by God's law. As already said, God's law has been expanded
since the first imposition of it. "Ye have heard that it was said
by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; but I say unto you, That
whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger
of the judgment. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,
Thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say unto you, That whosoever
looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her
already in his heart.... Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by
them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform
unto the Lord thine oaths; but I say unto you, Swear not at all.... Ye
have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for
a tooth, but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil.... Ye have heard
that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine
enemy; but I say unto you, Love your enemies.... Be ye perfect even as
your Father, which is in Heaven, is perfect."

(_c_) Conscience advises when there is a choice between two ways, each
good, but one more good than the other. In that case it points to the
higher and nobler course of action, that which, perhaps, costs more to
us, is more arduous, and most painful. It does not require us, under
pain of condemnation, to take the higher course, it merely recommends
it as the superior, and shows that there is no sin incurred by choosing
that which is inferior. Thus our Lord gave certain counsels of
Perfection, but every man was to do as he thought best, in following
them or not. So also S. Paul concerning marriage, he says that the
condition is holy and unblameable, nevertheless he would advise to
remain even as himself.

(_d_) Conscience permits the choice of an inferior course when it has
advised a higher, when it has weighed all the circumstances; when it
judges that the will is not strong enough to carry out the performance
of the higher course, or that the taking of the higher course would
subject man to temptations, or involve him in difficulties beyond his
capacity of resistance or escape.


First Tuesday in Lent.



1. The various causes enumerated have been the occasion of Consciences
becoming very various in quality. Of these varieties there are the

  (_a_) The Direct, or Sound Conscience.
  (_b_) The False Conscience.
  (_c_) The Scrupulous Conscience.
  (_d_) The Relaxed Conscience.
  (_e_) The Doubtful Conscience.

2. In the first place let us consider that vigorous and healthy
Conscience which we call a Direct Conscience.

Now God intended all Consciences to be direct, and the object of all
moral instruction is to bring crooked Consciences right, and to bring
ignorant Consciences to a knowledge of what is right.

The direct, sound Conscience is that which we should aim all our lives
to obtain. And as it is the interior manifestation of the Will of God,
and an obligation is laid on us to obey it, we must observe what it
commands, abstain from what it forbids, and respect what it counsels.

We must (_a_) use our utmost endeavour to learn our duties aright,
both towards God, our neighbours, and ourselves. We owe to God the
obligations of love, reverence, worship, and obedience. Our duties to
our neighbours are tolerably plain--the State enforces most of them.
We must respect the persons, the property, and the good name of our
neighbours. Our duties to ourselves are to educate and develop all
those faculties, physical, mental, and spiritual, God has put in us, to
keep our bodies in temperance, soberness, and chastity; to cultivate
our reason and our intelligence--the reason so as to be able to form
just judgments, and the intelligence so as to be able and eager to
acquire knowledge; to nourish and discipline our souls so that our
spiritual faculties may be alive to divine things, able to pray, to
meditate on God, and be conscious of His Everpresence.

(_b_) We must endeavour to bring under our self-love, which is disposed
to confuse and lead astray the Conscience by advising such things as
are convenient and flattering to self, and making them appear right,
or, at all events, admissible.

(_c_) We must seek to be serious in determining our conduct, to avoid
all waywardness and caprice, remembering that for whatever we do we
shall have to give account.

3. We must now consider what are the _means_ whereby we may obtain a
Direct or sound Conscience. These are many, but a few of those that are
principal and fundamental must suffice.

(_a_) _The study of God's Word_, especially of the words of our Saviour
Jesus Christ, and of His Apostles. Nothing is more calculated to give a
healthy and straightforward Conscience than this.

(_b_) _Experience._ We must bring our intelligence to bear on our acts;
Conscience was never meant to be blind instinct, but a bright, fresh,
enlightened faculty, assisted at every step by the intelligence, and
the intelligence will work on the facts of experience, and shew us
where we have been doing what is right, and where we have been going

(_c_) _Hold to first principles._ Self-love is very much disposed to
lead us into a maze of lines of conduct, and to encourage us to adopt
that most easy, most flattering, most profitable to take. It brings up
side duties, and exaggerates them to obscure broad principles. As a man
when travelling, on coming to cross lanes, ascends a height to get a
clear idea as to the main line, the direction in which he is going, so
must we ever go up to the broad first principles to obtain a general
survey, and follow the direction thus indicated.


Second Wednesday in Lent.


1. That Conscience may be perverted so that it allows those things
that are wrong, and forbids those things that are right, is, alas,
very true. S. Paul speaks of this. "Unto them that are defiled and
unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and Conscience is
defiled. They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him,
being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."
(Titus i. 15, 16.) And again, he speaks of those whose Consciences are
seared with a hot iron (1 Tim. iv. 2); and again, in the Epistle to the
Hebrews, he speaks of evil Consciences. Now an evil Conscience can only
be such an one as--originally good and sound--has been turned about so
as to be bad and diseased, allowing such things as it should condemn,
and condemning such things as it should allow.

2. Now a False Conscience may be either _invincibly_ wrong, or
_vincibly_ wrong, that is to say, incurably bad, or curable.

It does not by any means follow that he who follows his Conscience,
invincibly false, commits sin. Not only does he not commit sin, but he
is probably doing what is the best for his spiritual condition under
the circumstances.

For instance, take a man who has been born and brought up in Dissent,
into whose mind has been inground the maxim that he must fight against
the Church. So long as he does resist the Church by fair means he is
not sinning, the Devil cannot count on him as fighting in his army
against the Kingdom of God, as an enrolled soldier of evil. That he
is not. He is doing right, according to his lights. _But_, supposing
he has recourse to illegitimate means of defaming and undermining the
Church, such as spreading scandalous stories against its members or
ministers, _knowing them to be false_, then his resistance to Christ's
kingdom becomes sinful. Prejudice, the result of a false education,
has become so enrooted that his error is invincible, except by some
supernatural illumination. It was so with Saul. He fought against the
Church, but he did it from a right motive. As soon as God miraculously
converted him to a knowledge of the truth, then he became an Apostle
under that Gospel which he had formerly resisted.

3. Now let us consider the case of a Conscience in a condition of
_vincible_ error. As a vincible condition of error is one from which
nearly any man may free himself if he takes the pains, he sins if he
follows a false Conscience, without making any effort to set it right.
The error being voluntary does not excuse the act. Through indolence,
or indifference, or prejudice, he does not attempt to give himself a
direct and sound Conscience, and he sins in following his Conscience
when he commits something wrong, or omits something right, _not_
because he is following his Conscience, but because he has made no
endeavour to educate his Conscience to discriminate rightly.

As this is the case, we see how important it is for us to avoid
_narrowness_, and to cultivate broad and liberal views. Narrowness is
ignorance, and it petrifies the Conscience into a perverted direction.
Everyone is morally bound to endeavour to the utmost of his power and
opportunities to lay aside error, and to rectify his Conscience. This
he can do by examining every question presented to him in all its
aspects, for till he has so done, he cannot be sure that his view is
the right one.

Again, he must pray for guidance. The Holy Spirit is given to the
Church to guide all the members of Christ into truth. Lastly, he must
submit his opinion to that of the holy, undivided Church, which is the
pillar and ground of the truth.

4. It sometimes happens that in spite of efforts made to attain to a
right Conscience, it remains in the same distorted and false condition
as before. Either the mental faculties are insufficient to rectify it,
the judgment is cramped, and habit or prejudice has obtained too strong
a hold to be overcome. In such a case the Conscience is invincibly
wrong, but nevertheless, its promptings must be obeyed. God, Who sees
all things, and is full of mercy, will make allowances, only _not_ for
disobeying the mandate of Conscience.


Second Thursday in Lent.


1. The Scrupulous Conscience is a niggling Conscience that vexes itself
about inconsiderable matters, and magnifies trifles into things of

The Scrupulous Conscience is that which has no sense of proportion.
In a large number of cases it is vastly particular over matters of
indifference, and supremely indifferent about matters of importance. It
is a Conscience that never goes back to first principles.

This was the sort of Conscience possessed by the Scribes and Pharisees,
who tithed mint, and anise, and cummin, and passed over the weightier
matters of the law. (Matt. xxiii. 23.) By Scrupulous Conscience is not
meant a tender Conscience, but an itchy one. It is one that is ever
suffering from vain apprehension, and regards things harmless and licit
as though they were forbidden.

A sound and direct Conscience is necessarily a tender one. It sees what
is right and what is wrong, all in due proportion; and shrinks from
what is evil as from a serpent, and also is never at rest if it does
not fulfil those obligations which it sees are enjoined. A Scrupulous
Conscience is one that sees everything topsy-turvy, it magnifies
trifles, and passes by without seeing them the more plain and obvious
duties. It is influenced, not by its _knowledge_, but by its _fears_,
and this allows it to strain at gnats and swallow camels.

The Scrupulous Conscience often causes quite as much scandal as the
erroneous Conscience, for people see it making much of small matters,
and are led to despise or disregard Conscience as an unreliable guide.

2. That a Scrupulous Conscience may be brought to a right perception
of the relative proportions of duties, it must, or at all events, it
is most advisable that it should be put under directions by a wise
Confessor, who will labour to give it robustness, will strive to drag
it out of its confusion, and set it well aloft, where it may be able
to survey the whole map of the county of duty, and orientate itself

A right Conscience is also a tender one, but the converse is by no
means true, that a tender Conscience is always a right one.

3. A Scrupulous Conscience is often a companion to extraordinary
self-conceit. To bring it into healthy condition, and remove its
distortion of view, humility must be very resolutely practised. Even
where there is not self-conceit, there is generally self-centredness,
the mind is for ever turned in on self, and occupies itself with
probing all its tender places, and fretting it into sores. The best, if
not the only remedy for this is the forcible disengagement of the mind
from the consideration of self, and rough, resolute, and protracted
labour for others.

Consciences are sometimes scrupulous about the misdeeds, real or
imaginary, of others, and inert in judging of their own condition.
Cruel acts of injustice are done under the plea of obedience to
Conscience--this is due to the undue scrupulosity of the Conscience
which considers _only itself_; on the other hand, great lack of
charity, courtesy, and consideration for the feelings of others is
shewn by a Scrupulous Conscience, which concerning itself with _others
only_, disregards the broad principles of right action as relates to

4. In directing a Scrupulous Conscience aright, care must be taken,
not only to give that Conscience a clear and healthy view of the
comparative proportions of duties, and the comparative sinfulness of
things forbidden, and to bid it distinguish between those things that
are duties, and those which are optional; those things that are sins,
and those which are harmless; but also, it must be bidden to take into
consideration its responsibilities to other persons as well as to
itself, so that under the plea of following Conscience some gross piece
of injustice or rudeness may not be committed.


Second Friday in Lent.


1. The Relaxed Conscience is that sluggish and careless Conscience
which allows itself to be ruled or influenced in its determinations by
the voice of public opinion, or by the supposed interests of the person
present or future.

In the matter of religion idolatry is mortally sinful, for it is the
making by man of a religion for himself instead of accepting one from
God. A man is as truly an idolater when he fashions for himself a
sect, as when he makes a graven image. No man has any right to invent
doctrines, and establish a ministry of himself. Such religion is _from
below_, whereas the divine religion is a revelation _from above_.

Precisely so is it with regard to morality. No man must seek for the
moral sanction in the voice of public opinion, or in anything _below_.
He must seek it _above_, in the revealed Will of God.

Thus a Relaxed Conscience, that is governed by the public voice, by the
press, by private personal interest, dethrones God from His place as
Lawgiver, and sets up public opinion or personal interest in His room.
It does not seek its sanction in Heaven, but on earth.

As men make to themselves gods to worship, and sects and doctrines, so
do men make to themselves laws of ethics. He who worships and believes
in such gods and such doctrines as suit him is an idolater, or a
heretic, and he who obeys only such moral laws as suit him is every
whit as much in sin.

2. Now very few persons making any profession of religion deliberately
relax their Consciences, and submit them to the earth-born law of right
and wrong. They far more commonly allow it unconsciously to modify
their views of right and wrong to suit their own convenience. They take
God's Commandments, and pare and shape till they have fitted them to
their low ideas, and accommodated them to their practice.

This is not done all at once, and openly, but is a gradual process
which, unless guarded against, will deaden the Conscience till its
voice is no longer heard proclaiming any other law than the commonplace
maxims of mundane morality. This relaxed Conscience, being in error,
more or less voluntarily permitted, can no longer serve as a guide
to conduct. On the slightest motives it is ready to permit what is
not really allowed by God's law, and to regard mortal sins as venial

3. The Scrupulous Conscience exaggerated trifles; made mountains out of
molehills. The Relaxed Conscience minimises great things, and reduces
mountains to molehills.

4. There is but a sole _remedy_ for a Relaxed Conscience, and that is
to replace God on His throne as Supreme Lawgiver, and to bow down to
and worship Him alone. Instead of our taking His law, and trimming
it to fit public opinion and self-interest, we must make His Will
paramount, and test everything by that. Every act must be brought to,
and tried by the measure of the Sanctuary, and what falls short must
be rejected. In such a matter there can be no compromise between God
and mammon; God must reign, not supreme only, but _alone_, as the
Lawgiver, to Whom Conscience looks up, and Conscience must answer His
voice, and not the voice of the world, and turn to that for direction.
No man can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love
the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
Observe this injunction of Christ. He speaks of _masters_ giving orders
to their servants, and of obedience to command in the servants. The
Conscience is servant; it _must_ obey God or the world; it cannot serve
both. In the effort to serve both it becomes relaxed and useless.


Second Saturday in Lent.


1. The Doubtful or perplexed Conscience is that Conscience which
cannot form a resolve. It suspends judgment on the right or wrong of
an action, either because it thinks that as much is to be said on
one side as on the other, or else it suspends judgment through lack
of illumination, it does not see what it ought to do. Or again, it
suspends judgment because it is not sure of the existence, or the
obligation of a law commanding or forbidding some action.

This is the condition spoken of by S. James. "He that wavereth is like
a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. Let not that man
think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man
is unstable in all his ways."

The right Conscience is certain. It sees clearly and judges decidedly.
So does the false Conscience see and judge, though falsely. But this
Conscience is paralyzed in judgment, it sees so many reasons on one
side and so many on the other, that it falls into despair, and does
nothing because of timorousness, lest it should judge awrong.

2. The Conscience can hardly be doubtful about the main laws of God.
It is in their application to man's action that uncertainty lies. And
it is inevitable that some uncertainty should exist, for man is put in
several relations, and has duties in each that sometimes conflict. He
is a member of the State, the Church, the family, and the social body
to which he belongs. He has duties to those above him and to those
below him, and it cannot be that these duties should always lie in
parallel lines. He must sometimes exercise his judgment, and decide
which among several duties he will observe and which pretermit.

3. Conscience should never be suffered to remain in suspense, and in
suspense be left unacted upon, for Conscience is given us to spur us to
action, not to excuse us from acting, and so sanction inertness. Unless
Conscience be acted upon, it becomes debilitated.

We must act. We will now see how in doubtful cases one ought to act.

4. An opinion presents itself before our minds to be adjudged on. The
intelligence, in face of two contradictory courses of conduct, has to
determine which is right and is to be followed, and which is wrong and
has to be avoided.

(_a_) An opinion may be _slightly probable_, when it is founded on
motives that are insufficient to determine the assent of a prudent man.

(_b_) An opinion may be _probable_, when the motives impelling towards
it are strong, but there is a slight probability in favour of the
contrary opinion.

(_c_) An opinion may be _certain_, when all reasonable doubt is
excluded, through the contrary opinion being altogether improbable.

When the opinion is certain, then it must be accepted and followed.
When, however, it is only probable, or slightly probable, then the
judgment must be called in to pronounce on the _probable consequences_.
Hitherto we have considered the eye as turned to God as the sole author
of law; but in such cases as there is no certainty, only probability,
the Conscience is assisted by _prudence_, which is the action of the
reason judging of the probable consequences of an act.

When the moral sanction is certain, prudence is not called in to alter
the conduct essentially, only that it may order it so as to be carried
out advisably; but when an opinion is probable, and not certain, then
the eye of the reason may be, and ought to be, directed to the future
consequences, and the judgment formed, not only on the antecedent
probabilities, but also on the probable consequences, good or evil. As
prudence can only judge future probabilities, it may not countermand
what has certain sanction. Very often the consideration of probable
consequences assist us in determining the right or wrong of an act,
which antecedently is not certain.


Second Sunday in Lent.


1. God wills not only that we should consider His law as the rule of
our conduct, but also that we should exercise Prudence in the obedience
we render to His law.

Prudence is a faculty given to man by God, a scintillation of His
foreknowledge whereby man is able, in a measure, to look into the
future, and it is a useful handmaid to judgment.

Prudence is called in (_a_) for the determining of a line of conduct,
and (_b_) for determining the manner in which a determined line of
conduct shall be carried out. When our Lord exhorts, "Be ye wise as
serpents, and harmless as doves," He exhorts to Prudence. "Whatsoever
thou takest in hand, remember the end." (Eccles. vii. 36.)

In the first place, Prudence is called in for determining a line of
conduct. When the moral sanction is indubitable then it can alter
nothing; all it can do is to advise and direct as to the carrying out
of what is determined on so as not to jar against the rights of others.

But when there is only probability on our side, then Prudence is
invoked to say what the consequences that will result from such an
action are likely to be, good or bad; and so may exercise a very
valuable function in advising or dissuading.

Prudence looks to the near future, and to the remote future. It
considers what are likely to be the consequences in this world,
and whether the course of conduct will receive the sanction of the
all-seeing, all-just Judge at the Last Day. "The wisdom of the
prudent," said Solomon, "is to understand his way." That is, as
Conscience looks back to God for its justification, so does Prudence
look forward to the course taken in obedience to the dictates of
Conscience, and smoothes it.

Prudence is generally a moderator in the execution of duty. That
execution might be harsh, and hurtful, but Prudence wisely softens and
simplifies, abates prejudice, and commends the course of Conscience to
the approval of others.

2. We will now consider some practical rules for conduct in such cases
as the Conscience does not give a certain decision, but sees that
different opinions may be probable, more or less, and is in hesitation
which to follow.

(_a_) One good rule is to follow that course which is most natural;
what is strained and has the semblance of being excentric is probably
one flattering to self-esteem, and had better be avoided.

(_b_) Another good rule is to follow that course which is safest, in
which there is least likelihood of disturbing others, injuring or
annoying them. Also, which is least riskful to ourselves, in health,
substance, or reputation.

3. It must not be forgotten that it is quite possible so to carry out
a _right_ purpose as to do _wrong_ in the execution. Having decided on
what is right, foresight and judgment are required to determine _in
what manner_ and _at what time_ it is to be carried out. Prudence
often shews us that the same result may be attained by the exercise of
patience as by an impulsive and precipitous execution, and that the act
performed cautiously and judiciously will do good, whereas if done at
once in a headlong manner it may effect mischief. Also it shews that
there are more ways in which the same thing may be done, and that there
is a right way and a wrong way, a way that is advisable, and a way that
is mischievous and to be dissuaded from. We are warned not to do evil
that good may come, but people forget that a considerable amount of
evil is done by those who do good in a wrong manner.

4. Prudence is but another name for _wisdom_, and wisdom is one of the
gifts of the Holy Spirit. By understanding we see God's law, by wisdom
we know how to carry it out.


Second Monday in Lent.


1. We have seen that Conscience, enlightened by Divine Revelation and
assisted by Understanding, obtains a clear knowledge of God's Will, and
its application to the several conditions in which man is placed in his
course through life.

We have seen how that it is not sufficient for man to _know what_ is to
be done, he must also _know how_ it is to be done, and this is where
Prudence is needed.

But Prudence is not enough. Prudence may be so timorous as to dissuade
from action altogether, and may neutralise the effect of the promptings
of Conscience. Prudence sees dangers, and it may magnify dangers. "The
slothful man," says Solomon, "saith, There is a lion in the way, a lion
is in the streets," and so does not go abroad. Now Prudence counsels
a man not to go out of doors when there actually _is_ a lion there,
but Timidity keeps him at home _on the chance_ of a lion being there.
It is the function of Prudence to foresee dangers, take account of
obstructions and difficulties, and if Prudence stood alone it might
induce to inertness, and spiritual sluggishness.

2. Therefore God gives us a supplementary counter-balancing grace,
which is that _Fortitude_, or courage, to carry us with resolute, bold
hearts through the fulfilment of duty. When we know well our duty, then
we prudently consider which is the best way of executing it, and then
fortitude steps in to nerve us to the full and exact completion of our

Many an one, having seen the right way, invokes all his fortitude
to assist him in the carrying out of what is right, regardless of
the advice of Prudence, and many an one, when Prudence indicates
difficulties, and advises delay, falls into neglect. Each is necessary,
and each is equally necessary.

3. Fortitude is a gift of God; it is an attribute of the Holy Ghost,
the Spirit, not only of Counsel, but also of Strength.

We need Divine strength to _undertake_, strength to _carry through_,
strength to _bear the consequences_ of doing what is right.

(_a_) _In the first place_, having obtained a clear sight of what is
God's Will, and also having prudently considered what is the best
way of fulfilling it, we require strength to brace our resolution
to undertake the task set us, that is to say, to make up our minds
strenuously to do that which God commands, and to do it in the way most

(_b_) _In the second place_, we require strength to persevere and not
to become discouraged, and leave off imperfectly done that which we see
it is our duty to do. It is often better not to begin, than to leave
off what has been undertaken unaccomplished.

(_c_) _In the third place_, we require strength to endure the
consequences of our act. If we have done that which is right, we cannot
be sure that it will not entail on us loss, ridicule, disappointment.
But we must then invoke the aid of the Divine gift of Fortitude to
strengthen us to endure cheerfully such consequences as come of what
we have done, putting all our trust in God, and leaving all further
care to God.

4. It must not be supposed that the Divine gift of Fortitude is one
and the same thing as human _obstinacy_. Many men are obstinate in
carrying out their resolutions, and in carrying them out in their own
way. They have strong wills. But the Divine grace is different; it is
allied to humility, and human obstinacy is tied up with self-conceit.
It is therefore not difficult to distinguish the one from the other. A
lowly spirit may be strong in the Lord to fulfil resolutely the Will
of God, but an obstinate spirit is a self-opinionated one that follows
not God's Will, but its own. We must be careful in examining our own
selves, and seeing if there is strong resolution in us, if it is strong
in the right way, and with the right sort of strength.


Second Tuesday in Lent.



1. We come now to the consideration of Sin. Sin is either:--

(_a_) The revolt of the created will against the Divine Will; or

(_b_) A voluntary violation of a commandment of God.

2. God is the Supreme Lord of all creation, and Author of our being.
His Will should be the absolute law of all created beings. But as He
made men and angels in the plenitude of freedom, He gave them wills,
wills wholly free, and He set before them His law as the way of
happiness, revealing to angels and men that so long as they conformed
their wills to His Will they would be happy. Men and angels, though
created free, were for all that dependent on God; but certain angels,
with Satan at their head, revolted--they set their wills in opposition
to the Will of God, from dependence they aimed at independence.

The fall of Adam and Eve was different; instead of a complete revolt of
the will against the Will of God, it was an inclination away from God's
Will in one particular, a transgression of a commandment, not an act of

The revolt of the will against God is a deliberate resistance to
the just and holy laws which He has laid down, and it attacks the
immutable order He has appointed as the relation between Himself and
His creatures. It is also a wilful attempt to change the destiny of the

Thus Satan rebelled through pride, dissatisfied with what God had
ordained as to his place in the hierarchy of created intelligences. He
desired to be higher or different from what he was. His rebellion was
against the supremacy of God.

3. Now it is but exceptional to find man wilfully, knowing what he
is about, rise up in open and deliberate rebellion against God;
nevertheless, such revolt is found to be among men, though it may be
hoped not always, or not often _conscious_ revolt. Those rebel against
God who--

(_a_) Profess _Atheism_. They deny His existence, His law, His
providence. God has put in every conscience a witness to His being,
to His law, to His providence, and to profess Atheism is not only to
reject revelation, but to resist the inner testimony of the Conscience.
It is incipient, encouraged, and becomes habitual, till the whole
attitude of the inner nature is one of antagonism to God.

(_b_) Who resist _God's moral law_. Men may be ready to admit that
there is a God in Heaven, but as His law limits and controls their
liberty, they strive against the restraints He imposes on them, and
submit only to such laws as they are forced by the law of the land, or
by social society to observe. They cast God out of their consciences.

(_c_) Who resist _God's truth_. Men may accept the fact that God exists
in Heaven, and that He has imposed on men a moral law, but they reject
His revelation regarding the facts of the Faith, the articles of the
Creed, the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Commission
to the Church, the Sacraments. All wilful resistance to the faith as
taught by the Church, the depository of Revelation, is thus a rebellion
against God.

(_d_) Who resist _God's Church_. The Church is the kingdom of God on
earth, and all schism is a revolt against His authority as committed
to His Church, and in as far as it is _conscious_ and deliberate, is
rebellion against God, different only in degree to that of Satan and
his apostate angels in Heaven. Where this is in ignorance, it is of
course otherwise. God will always consider the imperfection of man's
knowledge, and if a man resists His truth, His moral law, His Church,
through invincible ignorance, He will excuse such rebellion.


Third Wednesday in Lent.



1. We have considered the first and most terrible Sin, that of
the Revolt of the creature against the Creator. We might indeed
consider all transgression as a rebellion of the will against the
Divine Will, but it is not always so. It is not a rebellion of the
will altogether, and consciously against God as Ruler, but it is a
transgression of a single command, either through stress of temptation
or through carelessness. It may, however, be deliberate and wilful, a
transgression of one law, but without the intention of stepping into
absolute and acknowledged hostility to God.

2. We sin against God's commandment, either--

(_a_) By _thought_, when we voluntarily and with deliberation consider,
and take pleasure in considering, those things which we know to be
forbidden by God. The thought of evil is not necessarily sinful,
nor is the emotion of pleasure that follows on the thought, _unless
harboured_. We cannot avoid the knowledge of evil, nor can we help the
sense of pleasure which is due to the corruption of our nature through
original sin, but when the _will consents_ to the thought of evil,
takes it up and gives it a lodgment in the heart, then it becomes Sin.

(_b_) By _desire_, when, knowing that a certain course of conduct,
or a certain act is contrary to the Will of God, we feel a desire,
and encourage that desire to take the course, to do the act which we
know is wrong. We sin by wilfully harbouring an evil thought, and by
wilfully harbouring an evil wish. For instance, we may desire that
someone who has injured us may meet with some accident, or not recover
from some sickness. The thought of such a thing must at once be put
aside, lest it should breed the wish that so it might be.

(_c_) By _speech_, when knowingly words are uttered either (1) contrary
to truth; (2) contrary to charity; (3) contrary to religion.

1. God is truth, and loveth truth, and all falsehood is abominable
in His sight. As children of God we must seek ever to be open and
truthful, avoiding evasions of the truth, and perversions of the truth,
and denials of the truth. That is to say, avoiding the obligation of
speaking the truth exactly when it is required; twisting the truth
about so as to alter its appearance and give it a look other than it
should have--a dressing up of the truth, denial of the truth, knowing
what we are doing. Satan is a liar, and the father of lies.

2. Contrary to charity. We sin when we speak words that are unkind,
even if they be true. We have no right to reveal what we know, and
to publish abroad the infirmities, the errors, the faults of our
neighbours, unless we are called upon to do so for some justifiable
cause. All backbiting, slandering, evil-speaking, is inspired by the
Evil One, who stirs up strife, whereas God is the God of unity.

3. Contrary to religion. We sin when we speak against God's revealed
truth and His Church. But we can also sin by holding our tongues when
we ought to speak. When we hear error proclaimed we are bound to stand
up for the truth; not to do so is to neglect a plain duty, for God
has made us all missionaries of His Gospel, soldiers in His army, to
advance His kingdom by example and by precept, and we are bound by our
allegiance to Him to use our best endeavours to dissipate error and
remove prejudice.


Third Thursday in Lent.



1. We have seen how that we can sin against God's Commandments, by
thought, and by word. We can also sin against Him by act, and by
omission. We daily say, "We have offended against Thy holy laws. We
have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have
done those things which we ought not to have done."

We will therefore now consider sins of _commission_ and sins of

2. We commit sins of the first sort, that is, we are guilty of _sins
of commission_, when we do anything, when we adopt any course of
conduct, knowing it to be forbidden by God. It seems hardly necessary
to say much about such sins, as they are obvious to all. It is perhaps
only necessary to say that we are guilty of sins of commission, when
we transgress any of the Commandments of God _in the spirit_, as
well as in the letter. Our Lord shews us that the Commandments are
expanded under the Gospel to include much more than appears on the
surface. Consequently any little act of unkindness, any trifling
with sensuality, any over-indulgence in eating or drinking, any
disrespectful treatment of those who are in authority, are sins of
commission, though they are not against the written words of the law.
It is therefore right for us to consider what is implied by the written
law, and to measure our conduct and weigh our acts by the spirit of
charity, by first principles of justice, and then it will be found that
we have allowed ourselves many things which are contrary to the spirit
of the Gospel. "Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing
which he alloweth." (Rom. xiv. 22.)

3. We use much less circumspection about _sins of omission_. It is
therefore advisable to consider them more carefully.

We sin by omission when we omit to do those things which

(_a_) We are commanded by the Law of God.

(_b_) Our Consciences advise.

(_c_) We are commanded to do by those set in authority over us.

(_d_) We are required to do by the State, or social law.

(_a_) Now it must never be forgotten that our duties as Christians are
not merely _negative_, to abstain from this and not to do that, but
are _positive_, to advance the Kingdom of God, and work out our own
salvation. Our Lord, in the parable of the unprofitable servant who hid
his treasure, shews us this. We must try to discover what active work
in His Kingdom He has ordained for us to accomplish, and then do it
with all our might. No man has any right to live in idleness. He must
do something either for God, or for his fellow men.

(_b_) We must obey the promptings of our Conscience. If Conscience
urges, and we neglect to obey it, we are neglecting the voice of God.

(_c_) We are bound to obey and execute the commands of those set over
us, parents, guardians, masters. If in authority, and they require us
to do something, then we cannot omit doing what is ordered without
incurring sin; for all authority devolves from God, and we are
responsible to God for the way in which we fulfil our duties under
those set over us. We must obey _readily_, _cheerfully_, and _exactly_.

(_d_) We are members of the State, and to the laws of the State we
are morally bound to give obedience; all organizations, the family,
society, the State, are divine in origin, and we cannot revolt against
any one of these without lesion of the Spirit of Unity which makes all
society possible, and that is the Divine Spirit. It is only when a
social or a State law is clearly contrary to revealed Divine law, that
disobedience is permissible.


Third Friday in Lent.


1. We have now considered the Nature of Sin, and shewn that it is
essentially a revolt against God, either complete and conscious against
God Himself, or particular, against some commandment of God.

We will now see whence Sin arises.

There are _interior_ and _exterior_ sources of Sin.

2. We will take, first, the interior sources of Sin. These are
three--(_a_) Culpable ignorance; (_b_) Human fragility; (_c_) Malice.

3. _Culpable ignorance._ A man is guilty when he commits an act
which is sinful, or omits to fulfil a duty, not knowing that the act
is sinful, or that the duty is obligatory, through ignorance, but
through ignorance which is voluntary, because he has neglected to
learn what is his duty and what are the commandments of God, or else,
because having learnt, he has allowed his knowledge to lapse, and
he no longer keeps in mind what he once learnt; or else, because by
trifling with his conscience he has so confused it that it no longer
speaks distinctly and emphatically, telling him what to do and what to
avoid. Consequently, we are bound to use our best endeavours to learn
exactly what is the Will of God, and having learnt to keep in mind
what has been acquired, and so promptly, and without prevarication, to
obey our consciences that they may not become to us uncertain in their

We may be, and we shall be, excused if we have sinned through
involuntary ignorance, but not if we have neglected the opportunities
placed in our way of learning our duty.

4. _Human frailty._ The weakness of our mortal nature is prone to let
us be drawn away into evil, either through--

(_a_) The violence of temptation; or

(_b_) The weakness of our resolution; or

(_c_) The force of bad habit; or

(_d_) The warmth and concupiscence of imagination.

5. _Temptation is strong._ Temptations are from without and from
within. It is necessary to recognize the fact that we are being tempted
in order that we may be prepared to resist. Half the sins fallen into
are committed before we have realized that we are in temptation.
Therefore we pray that we may not be led into temptation.

_Our resolutions are weak._ Some wills are much weaker than others.
Nothing can be a greater blessing than to have a strong will rightly
directed. A strong will perverted to evil is a great evil; but so
also, and only a little less so, is to have a feeble will devoid of
resolution. This is what most have, poor, crippled, infirm wills, and
we must strive after God's strengthening grace to brace and nerve
these limp wills, so that we may have the will to do after God's good
pleasure. Half the sins, indeed, more than half the sins, committed
are committed, not from deliberate wickedness of the will, but from
infirmity of the will, which has not the strength to stand against

_The force of bad habits_ is very great. We say that habit becomes a
second nature. If we have allowed a bad habit to grow, it requires
great resolution and Divine grace to enable us to cast it off.

_The warmth of imagination_ which unfolds pictures before the mind
encouraging to evil. Imagination is a faculty that may be of great
service to us, but it is also one that may lead us into danger. Many
a sin is committed out of curiosity. It was curiosity that led to the
first transgression.

6. _Malice._ The sin committed out of malice is the most condemnable
of all, for it issues from a _will_ that is corrupted and resolved on
disobedience. In temptation, through our frailty that leads to fall,
the will is overcome; it may wish the good, but be powerless to take
the right course; but where the will is set determinately on evil,
there the sin is of the worst kind conceivable. This is the condition
of Satan, one of continuous and complete revolt against God out of
hatred of what is good.


Third Saturday in Lent.


1. There are three exterior sources whence temptation arises. As we
have seen, there are springs of temptation in our own selves, but we
are also subjected to temptation from without. There are, (_a_) The
Devil who seeks our destruction; (_b_) Created beings that seek to draw
us from God to make of them our ends; (_c_) The world that endeavours
to bring us down to obedience to its low tone of morality instead of
following the high course as indicated by revelation.

(_a_) The devil walketh about as a roaring lion, says S. Peter, seeking
whom he may devour. We do not know for certain the reasons why Satan so
diligently seeks man's destruction, but they are probably _jealousy_,
because man is created and called to occupy those places in Heaven
which he and his apostate host have lost through their rebellion.
They are filled with envy and spite against us, that we should attain
to eternal blessedness, whereas they have lost it, and are doomed to
eternal misery. Another cause is certainly _malice_, hatred against
God; Satan and his host know what God has designed for man, and know
what God has done for man, and because they have set their wills in
antagonism against God, they ever seek out of malignant hatred to mar
God's work and undo His ends. A thoroughly bad man takes a malicious
delight in making others as bad as himself, and the devils feel this
same inclination in a heightened degree. Another cause is the _pride_
of the evil spirits. They are in warfare against God, and they feel a
sense of triumph when they are able through man's free will to obtain
the fall and degradation of one of God's noblest creatures. It flatters
their pride to be able to gain something like a victory over God.

(_b_) Created beings endeavour to draw us from God, to fix our
ambitions, our affections, on them. Or rather it may be said that we
are tempted to forget our true end and aim, allured by the beauty and
attractiveness of the creatures of God, to set our hearts and minds on
them instead of on the Creator. We are surrounded by God's good things
of creation, but we must look up through nature to God Himself, not let
nature arrest our attention. So with human beings, we should love them
indeed, but not let love of them take off our hearts from the supreme
love of all, that should be given to God. We are guilty of loving the
creature above the Creator whenever we allow our love for men, or for
things of this world, to make us give up religious duties, cease to
care for things spiritual, and to engross our thoughts.

(_c_) The world endeavours to draw away our allegiance from God to it.
The world has formed its own moral code, an easy one, indulgent to our
corrupt nature, it glosses over faults, and permits laxity. It does
not enforce self-denial, but, on the other hand, encourages indulgence
and extravagance. A very great number of people take public opinion
as their rule of life, and so long as they conform their lives to
what society expects and demands, regard themselves as in the way of
salvation. Now the social code is well enough as far as it goes, but it
is not intended to be the supreme code. The law of God is that which
we must obey first, and that always points out to us a higher life, a
purer life, and an unselfish one, whereas the world insists on a life
which is selfish, and without any noble aims.


Third Sunday in Lent.


1. We will now consider the way in which Sin is engendered, and takes
upon it form and guilt. As already said, the knowledge of Sin is not
in itself sinful. Nor is the sensation of pleasure that arises on the
occurrence of a sinful suggestion necessarily so. Sin does not spring
into deadly reality till the will has given its consent.

2. The _intelligence_ proposes the evil thought to the will; it
counsels the will to agree to some sensible good, which it sees, to the
disobedience of a divine law, the existence of which it recognizes.

That is to say, we see that a course of action lies open to us, which,
as we admit is forbidden by God's law, yet this course of action will,
we feel assured, bring to us some great advantage. For instance, a
manufacturer sees how that, by the adulteration of his goods in a
certain manner, not liable to detection, he may be able to save himself
several thousand pounds, which sum he will net as a profit. Having
seen his opportunity, he either accepts it or he rejects it; he turns
the suggestion of his mind into a sin, or an occasion of victory over

3. The _imagination_ represents in lively colours to the will the
charms, the delights of some action which the Conscience recognizes as
forbidden. Not only so, but the imagination exaggerates these charms,
these delights, so as to form a most alluring picture which the will
has a difficulty in rejecting.

4. _Ignorance_ conceals from the will the inherent evil of a course of
action proposed. A Conscience that is not keenly alert to duty, and
has not been disciplined in right, sees a course of conduct before it,
and sees that it will conduce to great advantage, but is too blunt or
gross to be able to distinguish any right or wrong in it. It acts in
obedience to the impulse to gain a promising temporal end, without
perception of the true nature of the act. This often happens. We do not
have our eyes opened to what we have done till after the thing is done,
and then, and then only, discover how wrongly we have acted.

5. _Bad habit_ encourages the will to consent to evil by recalling the
pleasure or advantages obtained by past yielding to temptation, and
invites it to a continuance. Moreover bad habit blunts Conscience,
and removes all sharpness of perception as to the right or wrong of
an act. Bad habits are easily acquired, and when once they get hold
of a man are eradicated with difficulty. Everyone therefore should be
watchful against the beginnings of a habit that may be bad, that is
not assuredly good, for what may be bad will in the long-run become
actually bad. Bad habit grows through carelessness, and a constant
watch against its rooting itself and ramifying must be maintained.

6. We have seen now how that the will is urged to consent to evil,
either through the intelligence advising it, or the imagination
alluring to it, or through ignorance, blinding to its nature, or
through bad habit, which has weakened the power of resistance in the
will. Now Sin only begins when the will has given consent. S. James
says, "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and
enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and
sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (S. James i. 14, 15.)
First the _suggestion_ of Sin comes from the Intelligence, or from
the imagination. Then the _will consents_ to the suggestion. Sin is
then in conception. Then it is carried forth into _execution_. Sin is
accomplished. It has become a fatal fact. Lastly comes the judgment on
sin, the result that follows sin as a shadow follows a body--Death.
"The wages of sin are death." "By sin came death."

We must therefore keep a watchful guard over the thoughts and
imaginations, and let the will be under the absolute control of the
Conscience, so that it may not give consent to the evil suggestion. If
it has given consent, sin has begun to live; it may, however, again be
checked before it proceeds to act.


Third Monday in Lent.


1. The subject for meditation to-day shall be the nature and effects
of Original Sin, which is that Sin committed by our first parents,
and of which we inherit, _not the guilt of the act of Sin_, but the
_consequences of the act_.

God is just, and God would not condemn to everlasting death men because
their first parents had broken His commandment. But the consequences of
Adam's sin passed on all his descendants. By his disobedience he had
disturbed the Divine Order, lost his original innocence, introduced a
dislocation into his nature. We will now consider what the results of
that transgression were.

(_a_) It disturbed the direct relation of the soul to God. It obscured
its vision of God, and all certainty as to God's Nature and Will. This
we see from the history of mankind. We find that the vision of God by
the soul was so clouded that men fell into ignorance of God, and into
false conceptions relative to the Nature of God and the Will of God.
All the wanderings of the human mind in idolatries and mythologies are
the result of the loss of clear perception of God's Nature. Not only
so, but the mistakes men made relative to the law of God, so that they
did many things that were evil, believing them to be good, was the
result of the obscuration of the spiritual vision so that it could not
see what was the Will of God.

Again, all the errors and uncertainties into which men fell relative to
the future state was due to the clouding of the spiritual eye, so that
it could no longer see what was the Purpose of God relative to man.

(_b_) The intelligence was darkened. Adam and Eve saw what was
before them, Death the consequence of Transgression, but allowed
themselves to be confused by the pleadings of the serpent, disputing
the consequences. Ever since, a confusion of the intelligence as to
consequences resulting from acts has existed in men; a lack of sharp
and decisive vision as to the relation of effect to cause, as to the
relation of result to act.

The confusion and obfuscation of the intelligence is removed to a large
extent by education, but only by such education as broadens the mind. A
narrow, illiberal education may do much harm by throwing partial lights
which tend the rather to confuse.

(_c_) The weakening of the human will. The will is not only inherently
weakened by having given way to evil, but it is continuously weakened
by the uncertainty it is in how to decide, by the darkening of the
understanding, so that duties are not always clear, nor consequences
certain. The will to do what is right is by no means strong, since Adam
and Eve turned their will away from God; the human will has acquired a
bent that inclines it not always to follow the right.

(_d_) And the undue elevation of sensuality tends to deceive the will
and induce it to follow the appetites of the body instead of the
promptings of the understanding. Adam and Eve went against Reason when
they partook of the fruit of the tree to satisfy a carnal curiosity
and gratify an animal appetite. Ever since then carnal curiosity and
animal appetite have obtained a dominating power in man, composed of
body, soul, and mind, quite out of proportion to what was purposed.
This undue elevation of Sensuality leads man to seek the gratification
of those appetites he shares with the beasts, at the expense of his
intellectual and spiritual powers.

(_e_) One other result of the Fall affects man's body. God made man to
be healthy, strong and happy. By his turning away from God, the source
of life, strength and blessedness, he became liable to decay, sickness,
pain, sorrow, and death.

2. We see, then, that the fall of man has led to the disturbance of
man's nature, and it has left man in such a condition that of himself
he is unable to attain to the knowledge of God and His Will, and unable
to fulfil God's Will even when He knows it. Consequently he fell more
or less completely under the dominion of the Evil One, who prompted to
error, and to that of Sensuality, which promised happiness to man in
the pursuit of his inferior appetites.


Third Tuesday in Lent.


1. The existence of Original Sin in man is proved to us in the first
place by our very constitution. We have only to look into our own
selves to discern its presence. S. Paul, speaking of himself in his
condition under the law, says, "When we were in the flesh, the motions
of sin ... did work in our members." (Rom. vii. 5.) "That which I do,
I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that
do I.... To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is
good, I find not. For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil
which I would not, that I do.... I delight in the law of God after the
inward man; but I see another law in my members, warring against the
law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin that
is in my members." Who does not know this truth by experience? Who has
not felt the conflict; realized that there are different and opposing
elements in his nature? There is a mixture of dignity and meanness,
of nobility and baseness, of the knowledge of what is right and a
love of what is evil, in all men. They have but to look steadily into
themselves to see that it is so.

2. Scripture affirms the existence of Original Sin. "Man born of a
woman is of few days and full of trouble ... who can bring a clean
thing out of an unclean? Not one." (Job xiv. 1, 4.) "Behold, I was
shapen in wickedness, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Ps. li.
5.) "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so
death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Rom. v. 12.)

3. The Church has always taught the existence of Original Sin, and
the Sacrament of Baptism, ever ministered, is a witness to this, for
Baptism is the means whereby men pass out of a condition of natural
incapacity to fulfil God's law into a state of grace in which they are
able to do those things God has commanded. The Sacrament of Baptism
was instituted as a corrective to Original Sin, to remedy the defects
produced in man by his filiation from Adam.

By nature--that nature degraded and corrupted through the fall--we can
do no good thing; but by Baptism we pass into the Kingdom of Grace,
and therein are enabled to stand, are strengthened, enlightened, and

4. Reason, moreover, assures us of the existence of Original Sin. In
the first place, we know that God is good, and we cannot understand
that a good God should have created man, the noblest of the works of
creation, to suffering and misery. We feel assured, if we recognize
God as good and loving to all His works, that He did not make man to
be what he is, full of infirmities, ignorances, narrownesses, liable
to suffering intensely acute, to continuous trouble, to decay, to
diseases most painful, distressful in every way, loathsome, and finally
to complete dissolution. Again, we have but to look at history, to
read the daily records of crime in the papers, to see that there is a
frightful amount of evil among men, and always has existed, and this
cannot proceed from a good God.

We must either deny the goodness of God, and say that man has
been created by a capricious Deity--a mixture of benevolence and
malevolence, of goodness and of evil--_or else_, we must allow that
God created men good, but that His purpose has been hindered, and
partially made ineffectual through the introduction into man's nature
of something that was alien to it at first. The introduction of this
alien element can only be attributable to man himself, who, having a
_free-will_, could turn away from the course ordained for Him by His
Creator, could deflect from the direct line, could bend from the way of
happiness to that of misery.

5. A state of Original Sin is not a condition of guilt for act done,
but a condition of impotency or partial impotency towards good;
and Baptism affords supernatural assistance towards the undoing of
those bad effects produced by the Fall, and transmitted through all
generations. It places man in such a condition that little by little
he can recover himself, and be restored to the original condition of
innocence, vigour, and vitality of the first man as he left the hands
of God.


Fourth Wednesday in Lent.


1. Having seen what Original Sin is, we come now to Actual Sin.
Original Sin, we have seen, was a partial paralysis of man's better
nature, a confusion of his faculties, and a rendering him incapable of,
by himself, attaining a recovery. It is a passive state of inability
towards good, and of subjection to evil. Actual Sin is quite other--it
consists in sinning voluntarily.

Original Sin is a hereditary condition; Actual Sin is personal.
Original Sin is involuntary; Actual Sin is voluntary. Original Sin is a
state; Actual Sin is an act which throws us into a state of sin.

A guilty act carries with it guilt to the soul of him who commits the
act, but it may also entail a consequent state on others. For instance,
a father by his vices may so corrupt his blood that his children have
sickly constitutions. They inherit the _consequences_, but not the
_guilt_. This is analogous to Original Sin, the state we are in through
the fault of Adam. Or, again, a father may squander an ancestral
estate. His children are born in penury, and are incapable of ever
recovering what their father has lost. His is the guilt, theirs the
condition into which his act has thrown them.

2. Actual Sin is of various degrees of guilt; according to the state
of knowledge of him who commits it, or according to the heinousness
of the sin committed, or according to the amount of deliberation
and wilfulness with which it is committed. Where there is complete
ignorance of the nature of the act, so long as that ignorance is not
voluntary, there the guilt of the act is not mortal, though the act
itself may be a grave offence. So also the manner in which the will
gives its consent materially aggravates or lessens the guilt of a
sin. If the act be known beforehand to be forbidden, and yet the will
consents to it, it violates Conscience, and the guilt is grave; but
when a transgression is the result of unpremeditation, a surprise, and
the will has not had time given it to act, there the guilt is slight.

And once more, there is a difference in heinousness in sins. It is
wrong to strike another violently; it is worse to strike with purpose
so as to permanently injure.

3. Sin is a violation of the Commandments of God, and as such is
incited to either by the Devil, who is the enemy of God, or by the
carnal nature which desires its own ends regardless of what conduces to
the exaltation of the superior nature, or by the world, which desires
to lower the general moral tone of men to a vulgar and easy level. It
is therefore a dereliction from God's Law, a turning away from God's
Order, a choosing of what is either against His Will, or not wholly
in accordance with His Will. It is therefore always evil, and always
deserves punishment, and always leads to suffering.

God has set before man, as the end of his existence, the attainment
of perfect happiness, by complete though gradual recovery from the
effects of the Fall. Every sin is a slipping back into the condition
from which we ought to strive ever to escape, if it be not, what it is
in some cases, a going down into an even worse condition, by making our
original sinful condition an excuse for becoming actually sinful.

4. For the avoidance of sin we need supernatural aid, and this is
Divine Grace. By Baptism we are placed in the Spiritual Realm, in
which we are furnished with sufficient help to enable us to resist
all temptations, overcome all bad habits, discipline all inclinations
till they take the direction of good in place of evil, and obtain
a clear illumination of our intellect, so that we can see, and see
distinctly, what is God's Will for us. Moreover, we obtain the faculty
of judging proportions, and of estimating what is near and transitory
at its proper value, as also what is far off and enduring. Naturally we
over-estimate what is close before us and is temporal, and hardly see
at all and value what is far off and eternal, but by the gift of Divine
Grace our spiritual vision is enabled to judge distances and judge
values correctly.


Fourth Thursday in Lent.


1. Every sin is an act done by man endowed with free will, in the
exercise of his freedom, and with consciousness what he is about.
That is to say, certain conditions are requisite in order that an act
may be really sinful, and these conditions are, a knowledge of what
is proposed to be done, liberty to do it or to forbear, and the will
engaged to accomplish what is proposed.

2. _Knowledge._ An act is only culpable when he who commits it knows
what he is about, knows the character of his act, or has at all events
a strong suspicion that the act is contrary to the law of God. This is
what S. Paul repeatedly urges. "The law entered, that the offence might
abound." "The motions of sin, which were by the law, did work in our
members, to bring forth fruit unto death." "I had not known sin, but by
the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt
not covet." "Without the law sin was dead." The measure of sinfulness
is largely the knowledge possessed by the doer of the deed. To such
an extent is this the case, that S. Paul supposes the case of one who
commits an act that is in itself harmless, but it becomes sin to him
because he thinks it is forbidden.

A corollary to this is that the degree to which an act is sinful
depends largely on the degree of our knowledge. For instance, to one
who knows that it is his duty to God to attend public worship every
Sunday it is sinful if he, without excuse, stays away; but the sin is
by no means as great to him who has never been taught his duty to God,
and thinks that going to Divine worship is optional, and is merely
for the sake of hearing a sermon, which very probably, and perhaps
reasonably, he thinks he can do without.

3. _Liberty._ An act is only culpable when the person who does the act
is free to do it, or to refrain from doing it. It is only when the will
is free that it can act so as to make what is done guilty or innocent.

Take the converse. A man may speak the truth, or give a large sum in
charity, because he is forced to do this, not because he wishes to do
it. He acts against his intention and desire. The act is good, but
there is no merit in what he has done, for it is done under constraint.
So it is possible that an act in itself wrong may be done under such
overwhelming compulsion that all exercise of freedom and determination
is impossible. If any freedom remains, if there be any chance of escape
from doing what we know to be wrong, then it is, to us, more or less
sinful, if we yield to force.

4. _Will._ This is the main faculty that determines the sinfulness
of an act. If we will to do an act which is a violation of a
commandment of God, or which may give occasion to the violation, then
the consequence is mortal sin. An act done by a child before it has
attained the use of its reason is not sinful, nor is an act done by
anyone without the exercise of the power of determination sinful. Thus
homicide is not murder. We may take what belongs to another person in
ignorance that it belongs to another, or also, without the wish of
defrauding another, and in either case the act is not sin.

The reason why eternal darkness and separation from God is possible to
devils and man is that the will may become so turned away from God, and
so diametrically opposed to Him, that the faintest stirring of a wish
to return to obedience is absent. If any lost spirit could at any time
repent, its salvation would be possible. Eternal death is due to the
fact that men may become so alienated from the life that is in them, so
full of hatred of good, that they cannot turn to God, and hereafter,
when they view the consequences, may still never _will_ the return, but
persevere in their rebellion and hatred of what is good.

It is consequently of the utmost importance that we should watch over
our wills, and strive to bring them to perfect conformity with the
Will of God, for in that alone lies our security, in that alone true


Fourth Friday in Lent.


1. We have seen that in order that sin may be deadly, it must have
been committed with knowledge of what was proposed, in the exercise of
liberty to act or not to act, and with deliberate determination of the

Now it is obvious that the same act may be very much less guilty in one
man than in another according as these faculties exist in more or less

We will now consider some of the more simple extenuating causes that
may make a sin really to be--to the soul of him who has committed it--a
fault only.

(_a_) _Excusable ignorance._ As has been pointed out, a man is only
guilty of mortal sin, when he is ignorant that the act is forbidden.
S. Paul says, "As many as have sinned without law, shall also perish
without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by
the law." And our Lord Himself, "That servant which knew his Lord's
will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will,
shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did commit
things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto
whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom
men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." (Luke xiii.
47, 48.) But the ignorance must be excusable, that is to say, he who is
in ignorance must not be in _wilful_ ignorance.

(_b_) _Fear._ In certain circumstances the mind may be in such a state
of alarm and disturbance that its power of judgment is paralyzed, and
the will is overborne by the fear which has become dominant. It is said
of those who are out of their minds that they are not accountable for
their actions, and there are cases in which terror is so acute, and so
overmastering, that a man or woman ceases to be morally responsible for
what he or she does.

(_c_) _Compulsion._ As already shewn, liberty is essential to qualify
an act as either culpable or not culpable to the person who is the
agent. An act may be in itself wrong, but the guilt entailed on the
soul of him who does it depends on whether he be a free agent or not.
For instance, it often happened that a martyr was forced to offer
incense to idols. The grains were thrust into his hand, and the hand
was extended by violence over the fire of the altar. But as the soul of
the martyr never yielded consent, no guilt of apostasy attached to it.

(_d_) _Inadvertence_, or excusable want of attention. It does often
happen that a wrong act is done before we really know what we are
about. It is done without premeditation. We are of course bound to be
ever on our guard against temptation; but that sin into which we have
fallen _unintentionally_ does not carry with it the same guilt to the
soul as if it had been done with deliberation. "Be not high-minded, but
fear," says the Apostle. The Evil One is ever on the watch to entrap
us when unprepared into sin. And though a sin committed inadvertently
may not be mortally sinful, yet it may, and probably will, carry with
it the temporal consequences just the same as if it had been committed
deliberately. "Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation." S. Peter
denied his Master partly through fear, partly through inadvertence,
he was caught off his guard. We stand often without any sight of or
suspicion of the temptation on the brink of which we are, and with
a touch we are over. As we are repeatedly warned to caution and
watchfulness, such inadvertence does not wholly excuse us. We are
_bound_ to be ever prepared, nevertheless the nature of man is weak and

2. Let no man seek to excuse himself for his sins. The remarks made
are calculated to comfort the distressed and agonized soul that
finds itself fallen into sin, which it hates, and is not intended to
encourage a comfortable assurance of peace when there is no peace, and
to engage to lack of watchfulness, and want of contrition.


Fourth Saturday in Lent.


As there are certain conditions that remove the gravity of guilt
attaching to mortal sin, so, on the other hand, are there certain
conditions that aggravate the culpability of an act against God's will,
conditions that may cause a sin, not in itself heinous, to become
deadly in its consequences to the soul. These conditions shall now
be taken into consideration. They are four, just as there were four
conditions that lessened guilt.

The conditions are these:--

(_a_) _An error of Conscience_, which leads the person committing
an act, to believe that an act is forbidden by God, which really is
harmless or allowable, and he nevertheless commits the act wilfully.
Believing a course to be sinful, he takes it deliberately. The course
may not be in itself wrong, but in that he thinks it wrong, and
wilfully elects to take it, believing that he is going against the
Will of God, he sins mortally. This we can see at once, for it is a
deliberate revolt of the will against what is believed to be God's
Will, and it is the setting of the will in opposition to God which is
the condition that makes sin to be mortal.

(_b_) _The evil of the end proposed._ That is to say, if anyone allows
himself to do an act in itself harmless, or permissible, in order to
attain to an evil end, then the act, though in itself harmless and
permissible, becomes exceeding sinful. The end proposed poisons the
whole course of conduct pursued. In the former case a harmless act is
made deadly in its consequences through antecedent ignorance, in this
case through subsequent evil. In both cases there is revolt of the
will against God. He who desires an evil of any kind, knowing that it
is evil, _i.e._, that it is against the law of God, and deliberately
compasses that end, makes every step he takes in the course whereby
he reaches that end, however indifferent they may be in themselves,
taken by themselves, to be mortally sinful to him. This is clear,
because throughout he is acting with a will in opposition, and in known
opposition, to the Will of God.

(_c_) _Contempt of the law or Lawgiver._ An act done by man in
disregard of God's law, with indifference to what God wills, is in
itself mortally sinful. No man has any right to disregard God's
law, which is the rule the Creator has impressed on His intelligent
creatures, and no man may be indifferent to God, Who has given His
law as the rule of well-being for the creatures He has made. To put
God out of the thoughts, and to act as if there were no God Who has
expressed His Will is practical Atheism. With the lips he who so acts
may indeed confess Him but in acts deny Him. Neglect and disregard
of God may, indeed, be due to circumstances over which man has no
control--defective teaching in childhood, for instance--but of this we
are not speaking, but of such cases where a man has been taught about
God and His Will, and deliberately puts such considerations aside, and
does not allow them to influence his conduct.

(_d_) _The circumstances of the case._ An act, harmless or permissible
in itself, may yet be sinful, and gravely sinful, if the circumstances
be such as to make it the occasion of evil; for instance, if it lead
on to the formation of a bad habit; or if it be the occasion of grave
scandal. Such was the case of eating meat offered to idols. In itself
it was innocent, but he who ate meat so offered before weak brethren,
knowing that he was causing injury to their consciences, thereby
defiled his own conscience. In the former case we have an act made
sinful through disregard of the Lawgiver, in this through disregard of
the consequences to ourselves or to others.


Fourth Sunday in Lent.


1. We have seen throughout how that the exercise of the Will is that
which gives character to an act, stamping on it its mark of sin or
righteousness, in as far as it affects the individual Conscience.

We will now look at the Human Will, and consider how it operates.

An object is presented to it, and it can determine with relation to it
in three different ways.

(_a_) It can _consent_ to it. If the object be evil, and it consent to
it, then it becomes guilty, it sins. This is what has been insisted on
throughout, that the Will of man is the determining quality making a
thing to be sinful or not to the individual Conscience.

The imagination or the intelligence presents to the Will a certain
picture, proposes a certain act, and the Conscience then pronounces
on the right or wrong of what is presented and proposed. Then the
Will forms its decision. If it consents to what is suggested, and
the Conscience has informed it that this is _wrong_, then it makes a
deliberate act of separation from and revolt against God.

(_b_) It can _resist_, it can absolutely refuse to take the course
indicated, when the Conscience has pointed out that the course is
contrary to what God has ordered. When the Will thus deliberately
resists the evil suggestion, it not only does not sin, but it performs
a good and meritorious act. It has taken the side of God, and such an
act of positive adhesion to God is rewarded by God, and strengthens the
Will in a right course.

When we say that an act of adhesion to God is meritorious, we do not
mean that any act of man unassisted by grace can deserve a reward, but
that God will reward man if he, by an exercise of free will, ranges
himself on His side, just as surely as He will punish man if he, by an
exercise of his free will, ranges himself against Him.

The devils, by an exercise of free will, rebelled, and lost happiness.
The good angels, by an exercise of free will, remained faithful, and
deserved and retained Beatitude. So man has to decide. God's grace does
not constrain, it encourages and helps, but it forces no man to take
the course that leads to life. The determination lies with man, and
that determination must be made by an exercise of the Will.

(_c_) It may remain _passive_, neither consenting nor resisting. Now,
the Will of man is given to him as a determining power, and no man has
any right to bury this talent. Free Will is the best gift God gave
to man, and though it has been weakened by his fall, yet it can be
brought again to full vigour and energy by the exercise of it in one
direction or the other. The rudder is given to the ship that by means
thereof it may be steered. So the Will is given to man that thereby
he may be directed. No good steersman will desert the wheel and let
the vessel drive before the wind and become a prey to the waves, and
no man may leave the determination of his course to accident, without
moral deterioration. We must strive to brace the Will so as to decide
according to judgment and Conscience, and every such decision gives
tone and force to the Will.

2. There are certain cases in which it is advisable to _avoid_ instead
of _resisting_ temptation. When we know that circumstances are strong
against us, and we know that our Wills have not acquired that nerve and
independence which will enable us manfully and persistently to resist,
then the judgment advises avoidance of the danger.

This is especially the case in all such temptations as affect modesty.
We must never run into temptation, and where we are doubtful, and the
way of avoidance is possible, there we do well to take it.


Fourth Monday in Lent.


We have seen now what the Free Will in man can do. It can choose, or
refuse, or remain inert.

Now we will go a little further, and see how it decides. It can aim
directly or indirectly at a certain end.

(_a_) The Will can be _direct_ when it decides for that which is evil,
_because it is evil_.

Or when it decides for that which is evil, _because of the pleasure or
profit_ accruing therefrom.

Naturally, the first of these decisions is the worst; it implies a
radical hostility of the will to God. It is the condition into which
the will of the devils has fallen through persevering opposition to
God. They love evil for its own sake. The transgression of God's Law
affords them no gratification, the prospect of transgression holds out
to them nothing but a deepening of their woe; nevertheless, their wills
have become so set in opposition that they hate what is good, and love
what is evil, simply because good is good and evil is evil. The more
any man suffers his will to deflect from the Will of God, and he allows
himself consciously to choose evil, the nearer he approaches to this
condition of rooted and hopeless antagonism to God, and separation
from the source of life, light, and happiness.

The second condition is the usual one, in which man chooses evil
because of the gratification to his senses, or his pride, that the
commission of a forbidden act, or the adoption of a forbidden course,
or the dereliction of a commanded duty, will entail on him, or that he
fancies it will entail. He does not love evil because it is evil, but
he loves pleasure or what flatters his pride, and he accepts the evil
because of what it promises.

(_b_) The Will can be indirect in its pursuit of evil when (1) It does
evil that good may come, _or_ (2) When it does good that evil may come.

In _the first case_, the Will proposes to itself to attain to a good
end, but it allows a certain course which it admits to be against God's
Law, in the hopes that the lesser evil will result in the greater good.
Thus, a lie is told to gain the conversion of a heretic. It is good
to draw a man from heresy into the way of true religion, but to use a
forbidden means to do this is to sin. Or an act of injustice may be
done for the sake of doing some great and manifest good. This is not
permissible. Not only must the end aimed at be good, but the means by
which it is attained must be good also. Better leave the end unreached
than use illegitimate methods for obtaining it.

In _the second case_, the Will proposes to itself to attain a bad
end, and to reach that uses good and legitimate means. For instance,
the truth is spoken when we know that by speaking the truth we shall
rouse violent passions and produce discord. We do not mean that the
truth should be perverted into untruth, but that it may be withheld.
We are not bound _always_ to say everything we know, but to maintain
a prudent reserve. If A. has said something harsh of B., we are not
bound to tell B. what A. has said of him. It may be perfectly true
what we retail, but if we do retail it we know it will be productive
of discord. So it is quite possible for a person with an ill
intention to use quite legitimate means--that is, means in themselves
unobjectionable--to attain an evil end. Self-deception may, and does
sometimes, blind people to the badness of the object they seek, by
representing to them that they have done nothing wrong in the way by
which they have worked to reach it.


Fourth Tuesday in Lent.


From what has been said about the Will of man and the Nature of Sin,
some plain and Practical Conclusions may be drawn.

1. Those evil thoughts that pass in us, to which we give no consent
direct or indirect, are not sinful to us, entail on us no guilt. That
is to say, we are not responsible for evil thoughts, images unseemly,
profane, uncharitable, for distractions in prayer, dreams of the night,
unless we arrest them and give them our consent. Living in this evil
world, surrounded by evil, we cannot avoid the knowledge of evil; that
knowledge may, however, pass over the mind darkening momentarily, but
not staining, like the shadow of a cloud on a hill side. So also with
regard to wandering thoughts and unsuitable ideas presenting themselves
to us in prayer, we cannot help them, but if we allow our thoughts to
wander without effort to recollect them and harbour the unsuitable
ideas, then they become sinful.

2. Sin consists in the assent given by the will to the suggestion of
evil. That has been sufficiently insisted upon, and need not have
anything further said thereon in this place.

3. If certain evil effects are foreseen, more or less distinctly, as
likely to ensue, if we follow a certain line of conduct, and there
be no reasonable motive to force us to adopt that line of conduct,
and those evil effects ensue, then we are guilty of them. It lay in
the power of our will to avoid that line of conduct which brought us
into peril of doing those things which are evil, and, foreseeing the
risk, we took the perilous course. This is the case of rushing into
temptation. For instance, we foresee that association with certain
individuals will lead to a lowering of our religious fervour, a laxity
of view with regard to our moral obligations, and, nevertheless, we
cultivate their society, then we are guilty of the coldness that ensues
in our religion and the laxity that occurs in our moral look-out.

Or, again, if we see that by going to a certain place we are running
great risk of committing a certain sin, and, without any real
necessity, we go to that place, and fall under temptation, then we are
guilty, as if we had deliberately committed the sin. Or, again, if we
see that by spending much time, and thought, and money on dress, we are
becoming liable to vanity, and we go on lavishing attentions on our
personal appearance, so that we do become conceited and vain, then we
are guilty of the sin of vanity. We have wilfully chosen that course
which leads to vanity.


Fifth Wednesday in Lent.


We come now to consider why Sin is in itself so grave. There are
several reasons.

1. It is a revolt against God. 2. It is a setting at naught of the Work
of Christ. 3. It neutralises the Work of the Holy Ghost. 4. It is an
attack on Society.

1. _It is a revolt against God._ In the first place because God is the
supreme authority, the Lord over all Creation, and that creature which
sets up its own will against His, is thereby a rebel. Man regards, may
be, the laws as unjust, or as tyrannical, that God has imposed on him;
unjust because they limit his freedom, or are beyond his power to obey;
tyrannical because they oppose the desires of his heart and animal

In the next place it shows a disregard or disbelief in God's promises
and warnings, it is therefore grave because it shows indifference to
God's goodness and to His severity. In the first case it robs God of
the obedience due to Him, in the second case it robs Him of the respect
due to Him.

Then, again, Sin is a revolt against God, as it makes man seek another
end than that which God has ordained. God would have man seek Him,
make Him the object of all His aspirations, all His efforts. By Sin
a creature is substituted in the place of God, and man labours for,
thinks of, cares for this created object, a person, or a thing, and
makes of it an idol. It turns a man away from God as the object of life
and its energies to a perishable and unworthy end.

Once more, Sin is a revolt against God, inasmuch as it robs God of
the love, fear, reverence, worship, the thoughts of the mind, and the
affections of the heart, that properly belong to Him.

Sin therefore is a state of rebellion against God, in that it refuses
to acknowledge Him as king, and in that it sets up another sovereign in
His place. It takes away that obedience, homage, love that should have
been given to God, and gives it to something or someone else.

2. _It sets at naught the Work of Christ._ Christ came down on earth,
taking human nature upon Him to break the power of Sin, and enable man
to overcome it. Therefore He made atonement for Sin, and provided means
of grace whereby man might be enabled to conquer it. But Sin is the
making in vain the Atonement. "If they fall away ... they crucify to
themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame." (Heb.
vi. 6.) It prevents the sacrifice of Christ having any efficacy on the
soul, to cleanse it from the past and to strengthen it for the future.

3. _It neutralises the Work of the Holy Ghost._ Our Lord poured down
the Holy Spirit on His Church to be the sanctification of all the
members thereof. This Divine Spirit prompts to good, and helps to
perform what is good. It "prevents and follows us," _i.e._, it goes
before, stirring up the will to do, and follows assisting in the
performance. The Divine Spirit endeavours to purify us, illumine us,
and strengthen us. But Sin stains, darkens, weakens us, consequently
every sin wilfully indulged in, undoes the work of Sanctification which
should be daily going on in us, forming in us the likeness to the
perfect pattern of Jesus Christ.


Fifth Thursday in Lent.



1. We have spoken of Sin as a revolt against God, as undoing the
work of Jesus Christ, and neutralising the Holy Ghost's work of
Sanctification. We will now consider it as _an attack on Society_.

God is the Author of peace and concord, "He maketh men to be of one
mind in an house." It is due to Him that Society is possible. He made
man not only to be an individual with freedom, but to be a member of a
community. The most elementary type of community is the Family, then
comes the State, and lastly, the Church. Such unions can only be formed
and maintained by a certain amount of sacrifice of individual freedom,
and by mutual forbearance and compromise. Now as we see that barbarism,
pure and simple, is the state of man who lives merely as an individual,
and as we may be quite sure that God never intended man to be a savage,
we may conclude, from reason, that God wills that man should unite with
his fellow-men into societies, and therefore that He sanctions and
blesses the surrenders and compromises that make such unions possible.
It is so in a family; no single member can do exactly what he likes,
he must give up something for the others, and it is exactly the same
in the State and in the Church. In human nature there is an union of
different elements, and in man as created all these were in complete
accord; since the Fall disorder has entered into their relations, so
that there is divergence of object aimed at by mind, body, and soul.
God desires to see man's nature restored to perfect unity, so that all
conflicting tendencies may cease.

2. Now Sin attacks Society--_i.e._, the Divinely-ordered unity--in
several ways.

(_a_) By _Pride_ it impels the individual to assume a place to which
he has no right, or to refuse to the rest those concessions which are
necessary to make social harmony possible. Man rebels against being
only one among many, and endeavours to thrust himself into prominence
by arrogating to himself what does not lawfully belong to him.

(_b_) By _Jealousy_ men are excited the one against the other. They
envy each other the place, the wealth, the respect, that they have
obtained. All men cannot have the same position, the same wealth, and
the same respect; there must be difference among the members of the
community, as there are differences among the members of the body.
Sin is an attack on Society when, through envy, it stirs up class
jealousies, and stimulates hostility between different members of the
social body.

(_c_) By _Cupidity_. Men, in their selfish greed to arrogate to
themselves all things desirable, use the strength, opportunities,
position they have, to draw to themselves the good things of this
world, to the despoiling of their fellows. Our Lord warns against love
of Mammon. No man, He said, could serve God and Mammon, that is,
riches; and one reason is, that this greed after wealth is not for the
distributing of means of subsistence among the many, and the relief
of the necessitous, but in order that it all may be retained for the
glorification and indulgence of self.

3. These three motives for the breaking-up of Society are all of
Diabolic inspiration. As God is the author of unity, so is Satan the
source of all schism. God brings men together, and inspires to the
sacrifice of their individual caprices to the general good; the Evil
One, on the other hand, urges to the undue exaltation of the individual
self, so as to procure separation. He is the cause of discord in
families, of the sapping of the principles of unity in the State, and
to heresies and schisms that rend the Church. In a family, in the
State, in the Church, all members, all classes, all orders, are bound
together for the common good, and the Divine Spirit is in every social
body as a good ferment--working out of it what is evil. But the Spirit
of Evil is the spirit of decomposition, which breaks up all unity. It
is in the family, in the State, in the Church, what death is to that
unity, the living man--a break-up into warring units.


Fifth Friday in Lent.


We will now consider what are the effects produced by Sin. These
effects are _general_ and _particular_.

The general effects of Sin are as follows:--

1. Sin causes a _stain_ or scar on the soul. But this stain or scar
is not to be regarded as having a positive existence, but to be a
privation. A stain is a deficiency in whiteness, as a scar is a
defect in healthy smoothness. We are restored as far as guilt goes,
by our Baptism, to a state of innocence before God, the infirmity and
liability to Sin remains in us, but no condemnation before God. Our
souls are white and sound, white as bleached linen, sound as an untorn
garment. But every sin committed after Baptism is a loss of purity and
of soundness. The soul that has sinned always after bears traces of
the sin committed. The blot may be covered, the rent mended, but the
traces of its having been made are never removed, though, indeed, the
guilt may be put away by true repentance and absolution. This is due
to the fact that a sin is a something committed, and an act can never
be undone, though its consequences may be rectified. A word spoken
can never be recalled, nor can an act that has been done. There is
salvation for the sinner that repenteth, but the salvation attained by
the penitent is and must be different in kind from that achieved by the
soul that has never fallen into wilful sin.

2. Sin entails _condemnation_, subjecting to punishment, either
temporal or eternal.

All sin is a violation of God's Commandments, and God is a righteous
Judge Who will call every man to account for what he has done; but
not only _will_ He do so, He _does_ so now; and in this present life,
to some extent, does punishment come on the man who sins. We see
this in actual life, how that certain acts do bring with them their
condemnation and their chastisement on the doer of them.

We see the same in nations that transgress God's laws. God visits it
upon these nations, and brings them down, till by suffering they have
come to recognize their guilt.

3. Sin _alienates_ from God. God hates sin, and he who is in sin is at
enmity with God, is separated from God, and God's favour is withdrawn
in a large degree from him. Jesus Christ, by His merits, brought us
into reconciliation with the Father, blotting out the handwriting of
offences that was against us. The merits of Christ's atonement were
_applied_ to us at our Baptism. Then we who were aliens were made nigh
by the blood of Christ. Every sin after Baptism separates us from God,
darkens the light that shines on us, checks the flow of Divine grace
that nourishes our spiritual life.

4. We can, indeed, _return to the favour of God_, through the merits of
the death of Christ; but every return from mortal sin is a revival from
the dead, a special call back out of the state of transgression into
which we have thrown ourselves, into the way of salvation. To obtain
this we must _realize_ that we have sinned, _repent_, be sincerely
sorry for what we have done, and _resolve_ never to do the same again.
Then, and not till then, does God for Christ's sake forgive us. No
repentance is sufficient that has not the character of recognition of
the gravity of the offence, sorrow for having offended God, and sincere
desire for amendment.

When there is true repentance, then God _pardons the guilt_, but He
does not remove the consequences of the act. The punishment must still
be undergone. Thus, a man may have ruined his constitution by his
excesses, or squandered his patrimony. He may bitterly deplore his sin,
and sincerely resolve to avoid all occasions of sin for the future,
but, though God on his true repentance blots out his iniquity, He does
not restore robustness to his constitution, nor does He return to him
his wasted patrimony.


Fifth Saturday in Lent.



We will now further consider the effects of Sin, and these the
particular effects.

We live three lives; as we are made up of Body, Mind, and Soul, each
has its special life. The Body lives an animal life, the Mind an
intelligent life, and the Soul a spiritual life.

Sin produces a disturbing and poisoning effect on all these lives.

1. _The life of the Body._ God made man healthy, vigorous, and
immortal. The introduction of Sin into the world has produced disease,
infirmity, and death.

Sin is the cause of hard and exhausting toil, of the many hardships,
privations, troubles to which we are exposed in this life, and it is
the cause of the separation of soul and body in death, and of the
corruption that ensues in the grave.

Sin has a certain deteriorating effect on the body when indulged in, at
all events those sins which are sins of the flesh, such as drunkenness,
gluttony, sensuality. They bring their condemnation with them on the
body that sins.

2. _The life of the Mind._ The true illumination of the mind is God.
An intellectual life is willed by God. No man may lawfully neglect to
cultivate his understanding by neglecting to acquire knowledge, or his
reason, by neglecting to use his rational power. If man does, he sins,
he is wasting a precious gift of God, and the light that is in him is
darkened, he becomes a prey to superstition, ignorance, stupidity. The
life of his mind becomes stunted and extinguished. Sin acts on the
mind as well as on the body, it distorts its perception of the truth,
narrows its view, and leads it to mistake falsehood for truth.

3. _The life of the Soul._ This is the most important life of all, and
it is the life usually least regarded. This is the life that is divine
in us, the breath of God. It has a double aspect (_a_) as to God, and
(_b_) as to man. That is to say, it lives in two relations, one to God,
the other to man.

This spiritual life is the life of the spiritual faculty in man which
enables him to see God, to delight in His presence, to love and to fear
Him, to find pleasure in prayer and in meditation on the things that
are invisible. It enables him to look beyond time into eternity, and to
desire those things that God has promised.

Sin, when it has touched the soul, weakens its faculties. Its power of
vision is affected. "Blessed are the pure in heart," said our Lord,
"for they shall see God," but impurity is like a film over the eye,
clouding its vision. As the soul ceases to see God, it ceases also to
love Him, it takes less delight in prayer; the body, or the mind, gains
advantages over it, the compound life is no longer maintained in due
balance, but one factor or other overlaps, and chokes the spiritual

Again, the spiritual life is the life of the spiritual faculty in
man which enables him to observe God's law, and Sin lames and weakens
man's moral powers. As long as the spiritual life is healthy, man's
moral life is also healthy, for indeed the moral life is only another
aspect of the same divine life in man. But if man delivers himself up
to Sin, then this moral power in him is weakened, it ceases to speak
distinctly, it becomes confused, and finally ceases to speak altogether.

It is possible by continuance in sin to extinguish the spiritual life
altogether. If the mind be not employed, then it sinks into inertness
and death of the rational and intellectual faculties, and unless the
soul be allowed to grow and expand, it also will languish. And if by
continuance in Sin the soul be subjected to wound after wound, and its
voice be never listened to, then finally it will die.


Fifth Sunday in Lent.


1. Certain Vices go by the name of Capital or Deadly Vices, because
they lie at the head or source of all sin; and because they mortally
affect the soul.

But they are not in themselves acts, but principles or springs out of
which sins issue.

They are reckoned as seven in number, but neither does Scripture
indicate this number, nor has the Church come to any decision on this
point. It is rather common sense, and common observation, that have
led to this classification, and it is a classification simple and
intelligible, and of practical use.

These seven Capital Vices are seven mothers who, when taken into the
heart, settle there, and produce large families of sins. They are
_Vices_, that is to say, they are dispositions towards evil, disordered
inclinations left in us by original sin, whence spring up in us, _by
the consent of the will_, large crops of bad actions, _i.e._, of
sins. Vice is a habitual disposition towards evil. Sin is the action
produced by this disposition when it has seduced the heart into giving
consent to it. Vice may exist without sin, and sin can exist without
vice. That is to say, there may be a vicious inclination which cannot
manifest itself in act, because the opportunity is wanting. A sin
may be committed without vicious inclination, out of carelessness, or
against the inclination which is towards good, through the weakness of
the nature and debility of the will.

Everyone has, more or less, the roots of vices in him, though in some
they are far stronger than in others, and in some individuals certain
vicious propensities are stronger than other vicious propensities.
One man may have a natural proclivity towards pride, and this very
inclination towards pride may neutralize in him the inclination towards

2. The seven Capital Vices are:--

1. Pride. 2. Avarice. 3. Luxury. 4. Envy. 5. Gluttony. 6. Anger. 7.

Of these Pride, Avarice, and Envy, are vices of the soul; Luxury,
Gluttony, Anger, are vices of the body. Indolence is a vice of the soul
and of the body.

Of Pride it is said, "Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination
to the Lord." (Prov. xvi. 5.) "God resisteth the proud." (James iv. 6.)
"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogancy, and the
evil way, and the froward mouth do I hate." (Prov. viii. 13.)

Of Avarice it is said, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not
inherit the Kingdom of God," and S. Paul says that among these are
"the covetous" who "shall not inherit the Kingdom of God." (1 Cor. vi.
10.) "No covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in
the Kingdom of Christ and of God." (Eph. v. 5.) David speaks of "the
covetous, whom God abhorreth." (Ps. x. 3.)

Of Luxury, there are many and strong denunciations in Scripture, it is
one of those conditions which, like avarice, shuts out from the Kingdom
of God. (1 Cor. vi. 10.) S. John saw the luxurious shut out from the
gates of the New Jerusalem. See also Gal. v. 19.

Of Gluttony, that is of indulgence to excess in eating and drinking,
the same is said. "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are
these--drunkenness, revellings, and such like, of which I tell you
before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such
things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God." (Gal. v. 21.)

Of Envy it is the same, "Envyings," are included among the works of the

So also is Anger.

Indolence is the torpor of the soul and body, which will not exert
itself to do what is right, or to resist what is wrong. It is a state
of indifference to the true ends for which man has been made, and in
Scripture is called sleep--"Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from
the dead."


Fifth Monday in Lent.


The soil in which the Seven Vices find their root is Self-love, or
rather in an undue and disordered love of Self. If we really loved
ourselves we would seek to mortify and kill all the vices in us; but it
is through undue and irrational self-love that the vices find root and
opportunity to grow and flourish.

1. Self-love is not in itself sinful. God has planted in every man a
love for himself. It is part of the nature of every man and of every
intelligent creature to take care of self, and seek those things which
conduce to its welfare. God has even set self-love as the measure to us
of the love we should bear to our fellows. (Matt. xix. 19.)

2. Self-love becomes sinful when it is excessive and unreasonable.
When, for instance, the love of self makes a man disregard another's
need or comfort. When, moreover, it becomes a dominating passion in
the soul, obscuring and even extinguishing the love of God. When it
seeks wrong ends for self, the indulgence of selfish pleasures, selfish
comforts, passion, glorification. Then self-love is sinful. When a
person takes no interest in any subject but what concerns self, has no
talk save of what touches self, sees everything in the light in which
it affects self, then self-love is unduly great.

Moreover, self-love may be disordered when it seeks for its end
apart from God, in its pleasures, in its self-glorification, in its
self-righteousness. Some people dethrone God and set up self in His
place, and make self-interest their only law, and self their only
law-giver. Again, self-love becomes sinful when it sees good where good
is not, and takes the appearance for the reality.

Self-love is disposed to self-delusion whenever it is allowed to
consider itself too highly.

3. Self-love once excessive and unreasonable, draws on to pride,
avarice, luxury, gluttony, anger, indolence, because it shows man his
supreme good in honours that flatter, riches and pleasures that puff
up and indulge self-love, revenge against such as offend self-love,
and that neglect of duty which comes so easy to those who give way to
self-love. All the Seven Vices minister to self-love, pamper and feed
it, assist in its growth, and tend to make it take the place of God in
the heart.

Self-love is harmless so long as it does not encourage the growth of
these noxious vices. We must therefore be very watchful of ourselves,
and hold our love of self under severe control, never allowing it to
become a soil in which vices may luxuriate, but seeing that it be a
garden plot in which Christian graces spring up, which it well may, for
the same soil that grows weeds will grow flowers.

4. Self-control, self-renunciation, are required of us by Christ. "If
any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow Me." (Matt. xvi. 24.) The true love of self has a far
eye and looks to eternity, and seeks those things that are above, not
the things that minister to self-love below; seeks the salvation of
the soul, not the pampering of the flesh and the flattery of pride. And
the only way of obtaining the imperishable riches and unfading joys,
is by resisting the inclinations of the carnal nature towards such as
are for a time, and perish in the using. There is a true love of self
and a false love of self; or rather love may be directed towards the
elevation of the better self, or to the degradation of the inferior
self. It is necessary to distinguish between the elements that make
man, Body, Soul, and Mind, and to seek those things which minister
to the superior elements--Mind and Soul, not to the animal part of
man--Body. Or again, not to serve only the Mind and neglect the Soul,
but to seek the welfare of the Soul first of all.


Fifth Tuesday in Lent.


1. Pride is the love and estimation man has for himself beyond measure.
Every man should have a proper pride in himself as a creature of
God, an heir of everlasting life, and so maintain his dignity and
self-respect, not degenerating into buffoonery, and making himself a
laughing-stock to men.

But Pride must be within due limits. Let no man think more highly of
himself than he ought to think.

2. There are five ways in which Pride may become excessive and sinful.

(_a_) When a man is puffed up with self-esteem because of the natural
gifts he has received, as though they came from himself, and were not
the unmerited gift of God. Thus a girl may become vain and conceited
because she has good hair or eyes, and is esteemed a beauty. A man
because he has wealth. He becomes purse-proud. Or because he has great
abilities. Or because he has great strength and health. This leads to
vain boasting, to an insolent demeanour, to great self-opinionativeness.

(_b_) When a man regards what successes he has met with as due to
his merits. Success may be, and probably is, due in most cases to
frugality, sound judgment, caution at one time and daring at another;
but there is ever in it an element of the unforeseen, due to God's
ordering. Moreover, the good qualities, the prudence, frugality, and
so on, in the man are the growth of good elements implanted in him by
God. A man must always acknowledge God as the Giver of all good things,
recognize His hand in the inception and the carrying out of whatever
succeeds, and must not attribute it solely to himself. The thought of
self drives the thought of God out of the mind.

(_c_) When a man boasts himself of what he has not. When, that is,
in order to flatter his self-pride before others, he pretends to be,
or to have what he is not, or has not got. Thus living under false
appearances, living beyond one's income, are due to Pride.

(_d_) When a man despises others. Every man who looks down on,
disparages, and regards others as common and vile, is guilty of Pride.

The rich have no occasion to despise the poor, those of one social
class to talk contemptuously of those of another, or as being _common_
people, as _Nobodies_. With God nothing is common, and not one of His
creatures is a Nobody. Moreover, it is possible to sin through pride if
those who have committed no mortal sins despise such as have sinned.
Spiritual Pride is the worst kind of Pride.

3. Pride produces a good many children, all bad when overgrown.

(_a_) _Ambition._ The desire to distinguish oneself above others.
Harmless when moderate, evil when excessive.

(_b_) _Vain-glory._ The desire to make parade of those qualities one
has, and to attribute to oneself qualities one has not. Always bad.

(_c_) _Ostentation._ The affectation of making display of those
advantages we possess--wealth, cleverness, knowledge, &c. Always not
only bad, but vulgar.

(_d_) _Contempt for others_, leading to disparaging what is good in
others, and exaggerating their faults. Never other than bad.

(_e_) _Presumption_, which impels to attempt what is beyond one's
powers. It is not wrong to have self-confidence in what one has. It is
wrong when one presumes on what _one has not_.

(_f_) _Hypocrisy_, which seeks to show to the world a better face than
what one really has, to pretend to be what one is not. Ever bad.

(_g_) _Obstinacy_, which follows self-determination as if that must be
right; and a stubbornness which does not suffer a man to give way when
his reason has been convinced that he is wrong.

(_h_) _Disobedience_, which follows on self-conceit, making a man
follow his own wishes and opinions, and disobey just commands, because
he desires independence, or because he despises his superiors and those
in authority over him.


Sixth Wednesday in Lent.


1. Avarice or Covetousness is a disorderly and unreasonable and
excessive attachment to the things of this world, especially to money.

Now the love of the good things of this world is by no means sinful
in itself, it is legitimate. God gives them to us to enjoy. God gives
to us earthly things to be possessions, to keep, and to enlarge, and
multiply. To throw away wantonly what has been given to us is sinful.
For instance, it is sinful to squander money in extravagance, in horse
racing, in gambling. Riches are a trust, land and houses are a trust,
given us from God, and we must not diminish what we have received, in
amount and value, but endeavour to make them more. It is a token of
gratitude to God for this gift that we appreciate them, and use them

2. Worldly goods are given to us to satisfy the necessities of life,
not only in the matter of eating, and drinking, and clothing, but of
our mental and spiritual life also. Our worldly goods are given to us
to enable us to cultivate art, and science, and literature, all that
goes towards the furtherance of the amenities of life: music, painting,
architecture, sculpture, horticulture, &c.

Worldly goods are given to us that with them we may do what we can
to mitigate the miseries of the poor and suffering, and to advance
God's Kingdom, and enrich and adorn His Sanctuaries and His Service.
Consequently we are using our riches aright when we seek out means of
relieving distress, when we assist in the propagation of the Gospel
among the heathen, and when we build and decorate Churches, and provide
for the beautiful musical rendering of the worship of God.

3. Avarice is a mortal vice when we:--

(_a_) Desire the good things of this world for the sole gratification
they yield to our senses, when they minister to our luxury. When we
love them for a selfish reason, and value them only as they minister to
the comfort, ease, indulgence, and pampering of self.

(_b_) Avarice is a sin when we desire the good things of this world
inordinately. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the
world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of
the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the
world." (1 John ii. 15, 16.)

Excessive love of the things of this world becomes idolatry. (Eph. v.

(_c_) Avarice is a sin when it agitates the mind, and occupies it with
excessive anxiety after the good things of this world. "Take no thought
for the morrow," says our Lord, "for the morrow shall take thought
for the things of itself." "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His
righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt.
vi. 33, 34.) That is to say, the mind is to be mainly occupied with
the true end of life, and strain for that, and the striving after all
material interests must be kept in subordination to that.

(_d_) Avarice, or Covetousness, has several daughters. It produces in
man--1. _Callousness_ to distress. He loses feeling for the distress
of the poor and suffering. He begrudges everything given to them as
something taken from himself. 2. _Dishonesty._ In order to increase
wealth, the Conscience is hushed to pass over certain fraudulent
or dishonest acts whereby money may be gained unfairly, by false
representation, by selling a thing at what is beyond its worth, &c.
3. _Unrest._ The mind is engrossed by the cares and anxieties of the
pursuit of wealth, so that no good seed can grow in it. The calm and
peace of a Conscience at rest in God pursuing the true end is gone, and
is replaced by constant uneasiness as to how certain speculations will
turn out, what profit will come from a certain sale, or how certain
losses are to be made up.


Sixth Thursday in Lent.


1. Luxury incites to the indulgence of the senses excessively, beyond
what God's law permits. As a vice, it consists in the love of what is
sensuous, and the inclination to yield to the pleasures of the sense.

It leads to forgetfulness of God and idolatry. That is to say, to
the enthronement of self in the place of God. Everything is made to
give way to the indulgence of the pleasures and caprices of self. God
exacts of us the homage of the entire man--body, soul and spirit;
luxury corrupts the body so that it can no longer be presented holy
and without blame to God; stains and enervates the soul, and dulls the
mind, filling it with lassitude and indifference.

It leads to sacrilege, for sacrilege is the profanation of that which
is dedicated to God. Now, man's body is the temple of the Holy Ghost,
and S. Paul shews that sensuality is a defilement of this temple.

Moreover, Christ took human nature upon Him to restore human nature,
to purify it, and if we by indulgence desecrate the body, we are
dishonouring that nature which Christ stooped to assume.

2. Luxury indulged in becomes a _servitude_. He that doeth sin is the
servant of sin. (John viii. 13.) The more that the carnal nature is
yielded to, the more exacting it becomes. It is never satisfied, it
is ever crying out for fresh pleasures, and even when the faculty of
enjoyment is over, the burning craving after new pleasures remains.

Luxury indulged in _gives the Evil One power over us_. At first he
advised, suggested evil, then he commands as a master, and will be
obeyed. The sinner groans in his bondage and desires to escape, but
remains in chains, his efforts to escape are powerless.

Luxury indulged in _weakens the power of resistance_. The sinner
becomes with every sin yielded to more frail and more cowardly. His
will becomes more powerless every time he yields, he makes the next
fall more easy, recovery more difficult.

3. Luxury is not merely the yielding to gross sins of the flesh. It is
a root of inclination in man to yield to and pamper the body in many
ways not in themselves sinful. Any excessive indulgence in pleasure, in
ease, in dress, in entertainments, in distractions, in æstheticism, may
be, and often is, mortal vice. To take a simple case, the reading of
novels. A novel may be read as a distraction from laborious thought, or
painful thought. But to make fiction the main nutriment of the mind and
imagination is to indulge in the vice of luxury.

Man is sent into this world to do some good to others, to fill some
social gap, and to educate his mind, discipline his body, and cultivate
his soul. But luxury bids him distract his mind from serious pursuits,
and seek distraction as an end. Luxury, instead of bracing, enervates
the body, and it neglects the soul, if it does not cover it with

4. Gross indulgence in luxury, and long continuance in luxurious living
degrades the heart. The heart is rendered incapable of responding to
noble thoughts.

It blinds the mind to Divine things. As the pure in heart see God, the
impure have their understanding darkened to Divine things.

It chokes the spiritual life. To the luxurious prayer gives disgust,
religious counsel irritates.

It hardens the heart, it leads from sin to sin, till sin becomes a
habit, and habit becomes impenitence. Then the grace of God leaves the
soul entirely, and spiritually the soul is dead.


Sixth Friday in Lent.


1. Envy is a sadness which affects the mind on the contemplation of
advantage accruing to a fellow-being, and which we resent as though
what was his good was our ill. Or else it is a gladness which we feel
when we see or hear of some disadvantage happening to a fellow-being.
Or again, it may be a dissatisfaction at his having some natural
gifts or divine favours accorded to him which we are without, or
a satisfaction at his having certain natural defects, faults, or

2. There is no sin in the feeling of the heart when we are sad at the
success of another, which has not fallen to us, so long as it does
not embitter us, and so long as it serves to spur us to activity.
_Emulation_ is not sinful. On the contrary, God allows of inequalities,
in order to stimulate us to use our energies, and exercise our
faculties to the utmost. Emulation is only sinful when with it goes
loss of charity.

There is no sin in the feeling of the heart when we are sad or wrath
at persons obtaining advantages which they do not deserve. This is
_Indignation_, and springs out of a wounded sense of justice. But such
indignation must not prompt us to disparage, backbite, and injure those
who have succeeded without just cause for success.

There is no sin in the feeling of the heart when we are disconcerted
at certain persons obtaining positions of trust and authority which we
believe they will misuse. This is _Fear of Evil_, and is legitimate.
At the same time, as we cannot see the hearts and measure the
understandings of others, it is possible we may undervalue them, and
that they will do better than we have thought probable.

There is no sin in the feeling of the heart when we feel glad that
a person whom we deem unworthy has failed to obtain, or has lost an
employment for which he was incapable.

Nor is there anything wrong in the feeling of satisfaction at the
punishment of an evil-doer.

3. Envy is that gall of the heart which is the reverse of charity.
Envy is bred of self-esteem, and it hates to see others better,
happier, more esteemed, more prosperous than self. It is _selfish
egoism_, desiring to possess all advantages itself. It is a _baseness
of the soul_, which cannot endure to see anything superior to its own
mean self. It is a _falsity of judgment_, for it interprets awrong
everything done by the person it envies. It is _hypocritical_, for it
knows the despicable quality of its emotions, and veils them under all
kinds of disguises.

4. It is the most distressing of spiritual maladies. It is to the soul
what rust is to iron, canker to a tree, corroding and destroying all
happiness, brightness, amiability.

It poisons the entire life.

It is, moreover, the fruitful mother of many sins.

It produces (_a_) slander, backbiting, malicious words, (_b_)
uncharitable and cruel acts of animosity and vengeance.

It is a vice most hateful to God. "Envy," says Solomon, is "the
rottenness of the bones." (Prov. xiv. 30.) "Though I bestow all my
goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and
have not charity, it profiteth me nothing," says S. Paul. (1 Cor. xiii.
3.) It is one of the works of the flesh that excludes from the kingdom
of God. (Gal. v. 21.) "If ye have bitter envying and strife in your
hearts, glory not ... this ... is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where
envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." (James
iii. 15, 16.)

5. One belief among theologians is that the Devil fell through Envy;
when he knew for what God had created man, he was filled with jealousy
of man, and therefore revolted. As charity is the greatest of virtues,
and sweetens and glorifies the whole life, and is that virtue most near
to Christ, so is Envy the greatest of vices, souring and darkening the
whole life, and bringing most into likeness to the Devil.


Sixth Saturday in Lent.


1. Gluttony is the vice of greedy love of eating and drinking beyond
measure. If it be a love of eating too much it is _greediness_; if a
love of eating and drinking only choice and palatable things, then it
is _daintiness_. Now God requires us to eat and drink what is necessary
for our life and health, and He gives to us a sensation of pleasure in
eating and drinking in order to encourage us to eat and drink what is
good and healthful.

Gluttony is the opposite vice to the virtue of temperance.

Some people are particular not to drink fermented liquors, but gorge
themselves with food. They are quite as guilty of excess in one way as
those who drink beyond measure. The gifts of God are bestowed to be
used, and used in moderation. To despise and reject any gift of God as
in itself bad is to sin against God. So S. Paul speaks of those who
forbad meats, and so nowadays some intemperate advocates of temperance
forbid all fermented liquors as in themselves bad. Sin does not exist
in eating and drinking, but in eating and drinking immoderately.

2. There is sin when (_a_) one eats and drinks in excess of what nature
requires, merely for the sake of the pleasure of eating and drinking.

(_b_) One eats or drinks with daintiness, picking and choosing, and
disparaging food or drink if it be not quite what suits our pampered

(_c_) One spends too much time, or thought, or money, over food and

(_d_) One disorders the health, and confuses the mind, through overmuch
eating and drinking.

3. There is a virtue in self-denial in eating and drinking. Our Lord
Himself exhorts to fasting (Matt. vi. 16), and Himself set us the
example to fast. It must, however, never be done to excess, so as to
injure the health. And as it is well to abstain from food, so is it
well to abstain from intoxicating drinks, if done merely as an act of
self-denial, and to avoid scandal.

4. Gluttony or Drunkenness is the fruitful mother of several evil

(_a_) The _degradation of the superior faculties_, which are weakened
by surfeiting and drunkenness. The mind is abased, and the soul
smothered by excessive eating and drinking.

(_b_) _Forgetfulness of Salvation._ The soul becomes so lost in the
grossness of the life led by the glutton, and the gourmand, and the
drunkard, that it does not care for the things of the life to come.

(_c_) _Laxity of Morals._ When the thoughts are given up to pampering
the animal man in one particular, the power to resist temptation to
indulge the animal appetites in other particulars is weakened, if not

(_d_) _Passion._ The glutton and the drunkard are liable to give way to
explosions of rage and anger, to quarrels and discords. Self-restraint
being sacrificed in one quarter is lost in another.

Palm Sunday.


1. Anger is an agitation of the heart against persons or things that
displease us, impelling us to reject them and injure them. It urges us
to avenge ourselves on them for the wrong they have done, or that we
imagine they have done to us.

Anger is not necessarily in itself sinful. It is legitimate when it is
just, when the feeling is moderate, when the desire of punishment is
proportioned to the offence, and when it is soon passed.

It is sinful when it is _unjust_, _excessive_, _vengeful_, and

We feel angry when we see a wrong done, the weak oppressed, the truth
spoken against, religion mocked. Such a feeling is right, it is
_righteous zeal_. But Anger must not be allowed to get the dominion
over us. That is what the Apostle says when he bids us, "Be ye angry,
and sin not."

2. Anger is criminal in its _object_, when it seeks vengeance on a
person for a wrong he has not really done, or in excess of his deserts.

Anger is criminal in its _means_, when it goes about to avenge a wrong
by some illicit means, as by slander, by bringing hurt upon the person
who has given the offence in a secret, underhand way.

Anger is criminal in its _motive_, when it pursues the offender
remorselessly, even though he deserves punishment.

Anger is criminal in its _motions_, if they be allowed to pass the
bounds of moderation, and obscure the judgment, that is to say, if it
become a blazing passion.

Anger is criminal in its _expression_, when it impels to extravagant,
insulting, false words, or violent acts.

3. Let us now return to the consideration of the four qualities of
Anger that justify or condemn it.

(_a_) It is sinful if it be _unjust_, and lawful if _just_. We must,
therefore, be very careful not to allow our eyes to be blinded by
passion so as to judge wrongfully. We are very liable to mistake, and
may suppose a thing is done against us intentionally, when it has been
done accidentally. We must, therefore, not be impulsive in our Anger.

(_b_) It is sinful when _excessive_. We must not give way to the
feeling of Anger, so as to allow it to grow out of indignation at the
sense of wrong done into a hot personal passion that, like a whirlwind,
will sweep us away with it.

(_c_) It is sinful when _vengeful_. God says, "Vengeance is mine, I
will repay." We must seek only the redress of the wrong, not the injury
of the wrong doer. We must seek his good, not his hurt, in the exercise
of punishment. That makes all the difference between retribution and

(_d_) It is sinful when _lasting_. "Let not the sun go down on your
wrath," is S. Paul's rule. If we bear anger and malice in the heart,
the longer we harbour it the more unreasonable it grows. Anger must
be soon over, ready to die out at once when the opportunity presents
itself for forgiveness.

Monday in Holy Week.


1. Sloth is that love of indolence, or dislike to exertion, which
induces man to neglect his duties.

The will is given to man as a determining faculty to impel him to
action in the right course, and to hold him back from activity in the
wrong direction. Sloth is that inertness which holds back the will from
forming a determination, and therefore usually holds man back from
fulfilling his duties. It may hold him back from doing what is wrong,
and so may be of a negative advantage, and yet it so saps the life of
the will as to make it incapable of doing any good, that it would in
some cases be better in the end for a man to have chosen what is wrong,
and to have repented, than to have remained inert in the presence of a
question set before him to decide upon.

It cannot be sufficiently impressed on Christians that they have
_positive_ duties, that they are not called on to be a kind of moral
jelly-fish, but to a life of activity, and of activity healthy and
well-directed. It is in order that they may live this life of healthy,
well-directed activity, that Conscience is given them. Nor can any man
_shirk his duties_ without mortal sin, for he is going contrary to the
Will of God, and frustrating the intention of God in sending him into
the world. There is a place for every man, there is work for every man,
a line for every man to walk along, and Conscience to direct, and will
to determine, are given to every man to enable him to take his place,
do his work, follow his course. He may take the wrong place, do the
wrong work, and follow the wrong road, and he sins when he so does.
But he also sins, and sins quite as gravely, when he refuses through
indolence to take his proper place, and fulfil his predestined duties.

2. Every man has faculties of some sort, and for some end. He has
intellectual powers, manual dexterity, a sensitive eye or ear, and so
on, and it is the duty of every man to come early and clearly to a
perception of what his special abilities are, and then to cultivate
them to his utmost. So is he fulfilling God's will. But if he says,
"I am a man of private means, there is no occasion for me to exert
my intellect to acquire knowledge, to work at painting, study music,
follow mechanics," and so he does not develop his natural gift, he sins
against God, he is _wasting his talent_, through sloth.

Again, no man is justified in half doing what he is set to do. A good
many men and women are content to obtain a smattering of knowledge,
and to dabble in the fine arts, to trifle with science, merely so as
to be able to chatter in society about these things. But if anyone has
a faculty enabling him to do anything; if anyone has a task set him to
do, he must do it thoroughly; do it "as unto the Lord, and not unto
men." The servant must not half do his work, the tradesman leave the
article he turns out unfinished off, nor the man of culture be content
with a smattering of knowledge. All must alike _make full exercise_ of
their talents. What their hands or minds find to do, they must do well,
or they sin through the vice of sloth.

3. Sloth is hateful to God. "The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence,"
said Christ. The violent, _i.e._, the active, take it by storm. The
_unprofitable_ servant is condemned because he did not put his talent
to usury.

The barren fig-tree was cursed because it produced no fruit.

4. Sloth is the fruitful mother of vicious children.

(_a_) _Indolence_, and loss of time, and for the use of our time we
must give account.

(_b_) _Cowardice_, which makes us shrink from doing what is right
because we fear it will give us trouble or inconvenience.

(_c_) _Inconstancy_, which is the changing about from one course to
another, to avoid present discomfort, instead of acting directly in
accordance with the principle.

(_d_) _Deadness of heart_ to God's calls.


Tuesday in Holy Week.


1. We have considered Conscience as the faculty by which we discern
between Good and Evil, and then have considered Sin itself.

Now we will briefly turn our attention to the Sacrifice offered by
Christ in expiation for the Sins of the World.

If Christ had not come to release us of the _guilt_ of sin, and to
strengthen us to overcome the _weakness_ produced by sin, we could have
no hope of salvation.

2. It is not a matter on which we will tarry, to ask, Why it is
so, but we will accept the fact that by God's Will, _transgression
of His Commandment carries with it guilt, and can only be expiated
by suffering_. That it should carry with it guilt is indeed not a
matter to perplex us, for guilt is the sense of transgression and
the privation or stain that attends it, together with the sense of
alienation from God. But that sin can only be expiated by suffering, is
a law of God concerning which we will not now argue, but accept it. We
see that a sense of sin has ever impressed on mankind consciousness of
guilt before God, and a conviction that only through suffering could
that guilt be done away.

The SACRIFICES inexplicable in themselves and even absurd, find their
signification in the consciousness of guilt: men felt that they were
alienated from God, sinful before God, and they sought by Sacrifice,
_i.e._, by suffering, to atone for their guilt.

The _idea of Sacrifice_ contained in it these elements:

(_a_) It must be one of _blood_. Suffering and the shedding of blood
was considered expiatory. "Without shedding of blood was no remission."
(Heb. ix. 22.)

(_b_) It must be either a _human_ sacrifice, or it must be the
sacrifice of that which was most useful, essential to man: not of a
wild beast, for instance, but of a tame beast of domestic utility.

(_c_) It must be _innocent_ and pure, without defect or spot. It was
sometimes the first-born lamb or calf.

(_d_) It must be, if possible, _voluntary_. A Sacrifice was thought
to lose half its efficacy unless it were a free-will offering. Among
Greeks and Romans, water was poured into the ears of oxen brought to
sacrifice, to make them nod their heads, and so give an appearance of
consent to their death.

(_e_) It must be in part consumed by the fire, in part by the offerer.
The fire was the symbol of God accepting; the participation in the
sacrifice showed the man who offered that he received the benefits of
the Sacrifice.

3. Sacrifice was not only expiatory, but it was also _vicarious_; that
is to say, from the beginning man saw that the innocent might die for
the guilty. Now this could only be so seen because indistinctly the
human Conscience looked to the One Sinless Victim Who would by His
Sacrifice of Himself, put away the sins of the world. But for this it
would have been unreasonable.

It was, however, an universal belief that the just might suffer for the
unjust, the blameless for the guilty, and that was why the sacrificer
sought out the spotless victim as the victim.

This belief also was the occasion of numerous sublime heroic acts
of self-devotion in the heathen world, when one man offered himself
for the fault of all the people: as when Codrus died for his people,
Curtius plunged into the gulf in the Forum, Decius offered his breast
to the weapons of his enemies.

It was this belief which caused sacrifices to be multiplied, and yet it
was certain that these numerous sacrifices never really took away the
sense of guilt that weighed on mankind. "The law, having the shadow of
good things to come, and not the very image (_i.e._, reality) of the
things, can never with these sacrifices which they offered year by year
continually, make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not
have ceased to be offered, because that the worshippers once purged
should have no more conscience of sin. But in those sacrifices there is
a remembrance (or recapitulation) again made of sins every year. For it
is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away
sins." (Heb. x. 1-4.)


Wednesday in Holy Week.


1. As the sin of the world was infinite, it was not possible that any
sacrifice that man could offer could put away the guilt of sin.

Therefore our Lord Jesus Christ came down from Heaven to make a full,
perfect, and sufficient Sacrifice for sin. He died the Just for the
unjust, the Sinless for the guilty, to reconcile us to God by the
taking away of the guilt of our transgression.

2. Christ sacrificed for this purpose everything that He had,
withholding nothing, so that the oblation might be complete. In the
Garden of Olives He yielded up His Soul to sorrow even unto death,
feeling the natural shrinking from death; endured the revulsion and
loathing that accompanied the sense of the vileness and hatefulness of
the sins He took upon Him; and by the sense of pain that the presence
of sin brings on the soul.

He suffered the bereavement of friends, their cowardice and desertion;
the betrayal by Judas, the denial by Peter.

He suffered the privation of His liberty, for He was made fast, and was
dragged away by the soldiers and servants.

Before His judges He suffered in His honour. He was buffetted and
mocked, and smitten in the face, and spit upon, and exposed to the
multitude as a criminal.

He suffered in His reputation. The robber, Barabbas, was chosen in His

He was publicly condemned as a criminal. He was made to bear His Cross,
and was crucified between two thieves.

He suffered in His Body. He was scourged. He was crowned with thorns,
and then smitten over the head. He was tormented by the driving of the
nails through His hands and feet. He was tortured by suspension on the
Cross; by thirst and fever.

He was despoiled of His garments, and exposed in nakedness to the
derision of His enemies.

He was deprived of the succour of His mother, and of His faithful
friends in the agony of death.

Finally, He gave up His life, when He had suffered in every way He
could suffer, and with a loud cry died.

3. Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross by His suffering _expiated_ our

Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross died as a _vicarious_ sacrifice for


Thursday in Holy Week.


We will consider Christ's Sacrifice in its relation to God and in its
relation to man.

1. In relation to God, it was a full and sufficient sacrifice
satisfying the Divine Justice.

A satisfaction is, in general, the voluntary reparation made to one who
has been injured or wronged. It may be equivalent to the wrong, when
the reparation is equal in degree to the offence. It may be suitable
when it is proportioned to the powers of him who offers the atonement.

The satisfaction due to God from man could never have been equivalent
to the injury or wrong done; therefore Christ made atonement, and His
Sacrifice is equivalent, for it is in proportion to the offence; as the
offence is infinitely great, so is His satisfaction infinite in its

An offence is more or less grave according to the exaltation of the
person offended. And an expiation is more or less full and perfect
according to the dignity of the person who offers expiation. Now God
was offended by man's sin; and it is the God-Man Who makes atonement
for that sin.

The distance between God and man was so great that no man could
possibly, even measurably, have approached God and made satisfaction
for his grave offence. Moreover, the sum of offences was so great that
nothing in the world could atone for it.

2. Our Lord Jesus Christ by His Sacrifice for sins became our
_Expiation_. "When He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and
offering Thou wouldest not, but a Body hast Thou prepared Me. In burnt
offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast no pleasure: Then said I,
Lo, I come to do Thy Will (to make a free-will offering), O God. Above
when He said, Sacrifice and offering ... Thou wouldest not ... which
was offered by the Law; then said I, Lo, I come to do Thy Will (to make
a free-will offering), O God. He taketh away the first (the symbolic
Sacrifice) that He may establish the second (the full, perfect,
free-will Sacrifice of Christ)." (Heb. x. 5-9.)

He became our _Substitute_. "Christ hath once suffered for sins, the
just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." (1 Pet. iii. 18.)
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us--He
took it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross." (Col. i. 14.)

He became our _Redemption_. "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible
things, as silver and gold--but with the precious blood of Christ, as
of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Pet. i. 18, 19.)

3. Thus we see that Christ, by His full and voluntary Sacrifice of
Himself, by His incomparable sufferings and death, made atonement to
God for the transgressions we had committed against Him, thus removing
the barrier that stood between the just and righteous God and man.
That He suffered in our place; a vicarious victim enduring the wrath of
God, and the pains due to us for our transgression of God's law. And
that He paid the price whereby we were bought back out of servitude to
evil, and set at liberty to serve God in freedom.


Good Friday.



1. The satisfaction offered by our Lord Jesus Christ was perfect.

His offering was a _free will_ one. He came down from Heaven to redeem
men. "Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life
that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it
down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take
it again." (John x. 17, 18.) Although His human will recoiled from the
prospect of humiliation and death, yet He submitted it to the Divine
Will, "Not Mine, but Thine be done."

It was _complete_, and fulfilled all the requirements of justice. None
but God Himself could offer a complete and perfect atonement for the
mass of transgressions committed against God.

2. By His Sacrifice for sin, our Lord Jesus Christ has _redeemed_ us
from sin, taken away from us the stain of sin. "Jesus Christ ... Who
loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood." (Rev. i.
5.) Consequently our sins are no more imputed to us. They have been
cancelled. We are no more under wrath, but are children of God. He has
_delivered us from the power of sin_. He that committeth sin is the
servant of sin. (John viii. 34.) He has delivered us from the power of
sin. Sin hath no more dominion over us. We are no longer under sin,
but under grace. By nature we were in bondage to Satan, who held men
in hard servitude, with no power of escape from it, but by Christ's
redemption we have been brought out of the Egypt of bondage, and set in
the glorious liberty of the children of God. We are, as S. Paul says,
"made free from sin." We are, by the merits of Christ's atonement,
placed in the same position in which Adam was before he fell. And if we
fall after we have been placed in a state of grace, we fall by our own

_He has delivered us from the chastisement due for our sins._ All sin
entails punishment. But Christ has not only taken from us the guilt
of sin, but also to a large extent the suffering due as a penalty for
sin. Not indeed wholly, as it is necessary for our education that we
should still feel pain if we transgress a law, but He has removed all
save what is necessary for our discipline. Sin indeed deserved eternal
separation from God, as it was an alienation from God, it must have
led further and further away from Him into outer darkness and eternal
death. But Christ has delivered us from this. He is always ready to
restore us to our former position in the way of salvation.

3. By the Sacrifice of Christ's death, the expiation is _universal_.
That is to say, Christ made atonement for the sins of the whole world.
He did all that was necessary to redeem the souls of those already
dead, of those then alive, but also of all those who should live in
ages to come. He did not die for the Jews only, or for the Gentiles
only, or for only a few elect, but for all mankind, that all mankind
might be saved.

How is it then that some are lost? It is because all will not accept
His redemption; they refuse the benefits He offers, reject His precious
blood, and will have nothing to do with His salvation. Brought, may be,
out of darkness into light, they go back into thraldom to the Evil One,
trample on God's mercy, and wilfully resist Him. Grace and pardon are
offered to all, but all will not receive.

No man, not even the heathen, is lost eternally, except by wilful
opposition to what he knows to be the truth. Some may have little
light, others have more, but whosoever will follow his light as far
as it shines, he will not have his shortcomings imputed to him, but
through the abounding mercy and merits of Jesus Christ will be saved.


Easter Eve.


1. Having seen how Christ made a full, perfect, and sufficient
sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, we will now see how we can
apply the merits of His Sacrifice to our own souls, to _cleanse_ them
from dead works, and to _strengthen_ them for obedience in His service.

2. The _atoning blood of Christ is applied in the Sacraments_. First,
in the Sacrament of Baptism the blood of Christ is the efficient cause
of the neophyte passing out of the bondage of Satan into the Kingdom of
God. By that blood we obtain remission of original sin.

But we sin after Baptism. How is past baptismal sin to be effaced?

(_a_) There must be a _right disposition_ on our part. We must _come
to a knowledge_ of our sinful state; then we must _bitterly grieve_
over our transgression, and we must then _resolve not to sin again_;
in other words, knowing our sin we must acknowledge it, be contrite,
and have full purpose of amendment. These three elements go to make up
_true repentance_. And without true repentance there can be no pardon
accorded us.

(_b_) When there is this right disposition, then we must _plead the
Sacrifice of Christ's death_. This we do in the way Christ Himself
appointed, by the oblation of the Holy Eucharist. In this we show
forth the Lord's death till He come. In this we offer up before God
the atoning blood of Christ in expiation for our offences. Then we
go before the Throne of the Eternal Father, and righteous Judge; we
show that we are ourselves in the right disposition, _i.e._, truly
repentant, we acknowledge our offences, show Him that we bewail
them, earnestly entreat for grace to amend, and then plead that
all-prevailing Sacrifice, through which alone our repentance can be

(_c_) But all prayer is an echo of the great Eucharistic Sacrifice, for
all prayer is offered through the name, the merits, and mediation of
Jesus Christ. Prayer is availing, because we have access to the Father
through Christ.

3. _The Sacrifice of Christ obtains for us strength_, and this is
distributed to us in the Sacraments. At the Lord's table we are
strengthened and refreshed with the Body and Blood of Christ, enabled
through Him to resist temptation, overcome natural weakness, grow
strong in His grace, and attain to the likeness of Christ. We should
have no help from above were it not that Christ has won it for us by
His Sacrifice.

Thus through Jesus Christ, we who were sometime aliens are brought nigh
to God, made the children of God, and perfected unto the Day of the


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

The illustrations indicated at the end of each chapter are small, black
Maltese-style crosses.

Obvious printer's errors corrected.

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
possible, including obsolete and variant spellings, inconsistent
hyphenation, unclear grammatical usage, and other inconsistencies.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Conscience and Sin - Daily Meditations for Lent" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.