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we can never be really disciples of Christ without poverty of spirit. That the best means to preserve our innocence is to retire, as much as may be, from the occasions and temptations to evil. To set a strict guard upon our senses, and by frequent mortification to keep our bodies in subjection to our minds. That an unlawful oath no ways obliges him that takes it; the taking it is a sin which must be repented of, but the breaking of it is a necessary duty, and a branch of that repentance which is due for the former rashness in making it. That the true worth of men ought not to be measured by their outward circumstances in this world, since the greatest of prophets suffered the indignities of a prison, and fell by the hands of a common executioner. To take all pru. dent means to reprove the vices of others, when the providence of God gives us a fair opportunity; which ought always to be managed with great discretion, if we intend to do good, the only end to be aimed at in it.
Q. Wherein consists the nature of reproof?
A. In putting our neighbour in mind of his duty when he transgresses the laws of God; in representing to him his faults, with their several aggravations, and the dangerous consequences that attend them; that by a seasonable warning he may be recovered to a right sense of things, and that his soul may be preserved from that ruin that otherwise threatens it.
Q. Whence arises the obligation of a Christian to perform this duty ?
A. From that Christian charity and compassionate concern he ought to have for the souls of men made after the image of God, and purchased by the precious blood of Christ, which run great hazard of perishing without such faithful admonitions. For self-love is so
rooted in our nature, and we have that partiality to ourselves, that very often either we do not see our miscarriages, or at least not in their true light; and therefore it is necessary some charitable hand should make the discovery clear to us. And in many cases, except we perform this duty, we cannot preserve ourselves from guilt; for those who are intrusted with any degree of authority, as magistrates, parents, and masters, are answerable for those faults which are owing to their connivance and encouragement. Besides, all professions of friendship, without the use of such freedoms, will be apt to degenerate into flattery; and it is in vain we pretend to be ready and willing to serve our friends, when we neglect doing them that solid good, which the interest we have in them qualifies us only to administer to them with advantage.
Q. What makes it so difficult to perform this duty successfully?
A. The natural pride of men, which makes them so averse from hearing their own faults with patience; and the great distance there is between the circumstances and conditions of men in this world; many being fit to be repruved, whom yet every man is not fit to reprove. But in that case we must get it done by those that are fit; and great regard must be had to time and circumstances, that this exercise of piety and friendship may have its desired effect. Though there are some instances of reproof, which the meanest ought to practise towards the greatest; never to approve of their faults, nor to be influenced by them to any sinful compliances.
Q. Whose particular duty is it to reprove the great ?
A. It is part of the priest's office, who is obliged to suit his discourses to the sins of his hearers, as St. John
the Baptist did before Herod, St. Paul before Felix, and our Saviour before the Scribes and Pharisees."
Q. But since reproof is so difficult a duty to be performed with success to equals as well as superiors, what measures ought to be observed in reprehending others?
A. The occasion ought to be weighty and important; and we should take care that our reproof be always free from passion or self-interest, lest any
other motive appear, besides that of doing good. It should be expressed in the most decent and the softest language, and timed when favourable circumstances may concur to make it effectual. We ought to be entirely free ourselves from the fault we reprehend in others; or at least, at the same time, we ought to condemn ourselves, that by exposing our own follies, we may with the better grace rectify those of others.
THE PRAYERS. FOR THE IMITATION OF ST. JOHN BAPTIST. ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare a way for thy Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance; make me so to follow his doctrine, and holy life, that I may truly repent according to his preaching, and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake, through the merits of Jesus Christ. Amen.
FOR God's GUIDANCE.
O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; increase
and multiply upon me thy mercy, that thou being my ruler and guide, I may so pass through things temporal, that I finally lose not the things eternal : grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.
FOR RETIREMENT AND MORTIFICATION. ALMIGHTY God, who hast sent me into this world, as a state of probation and trial, that I might be a candidate for eternity; teach me frequently to retire from the occasions and temptations to sin, to mortify my affections to the love of this world, that dangerous enemy to my salvation : as I have solemnly renounced it in my baptism, so let my practice shew I am true to what I then vowed: make me carefully to avoid that conversation where the reputation of my neighbour is sacrificed to the entertainment of the company;
is espoused as a principle of honour, and honesty esteemed weakness; where pride and vanity, and sinful pleasures chiefly reign; where piety and devotion insensibly lose their strength and vigour; where religion is counted a cheat, and fools make a mock at sin: defend me, O God, from this infectious air, so apt to poison and corrupt the best principles ; where it is difficult to preserve my innocence, or to recover thy favour by repentance: grant this, O Lord, for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.
FOR CHRISTIAN CHARITY IN REPROVING.
Most gracious God, thou great lover of souls, who hast made them after thine own image, and purchased them at the expense of the blood of thy own Son Jesus Christ our Lord; inspire me with that true Christian charity which extends itself to the eternal welfare of my neighbour, that I may unfeignedly compassionate his
unhappiness whenever he transgresses thy holy laws, and by all prudent means represent to him his faults, with their several aggravations, that I may carefully set his miscarriages before his face, and in such a true light that by a seasonable warning of his danger, he may
be preserved from that ruin his sins deserve, and thy justice hath threatened. Let no man's greatness in this world ever prevail upon me to approve his vices, or influence me to any the least sinful compliance: and in order to make the duty of reproof effectual to the salvation of my neighbour, preserve me from any irregular passion in the manner of administering it, and from any by-end in the prospect of performing it; that so by thy blessing, upon a seasonable and prudent admonition, he may be recovered to a true sense of his duty, obtain thy gracious pardon in this world, and in the next, life everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
JUNE 29. Q. What Festival does the church this day celebrate?
A. The martyrdom of St. Peter, the first of the Apostles.
Q. What account have we of St. Peter's origin?
A. That he was born at Bethsaida, a town situated on the banks of the sea of Galilee;a that when he was circumcised, according to the rights of the Mosaic law, he was called Simon or Symeon ; that our Saviour added to that the name of Cephas, which in Syriac, the vulgar language of the Jews at that time, signifies a stone or rock, from whence it was derived into the Greek IIétpos, and so termed by us Peter."