“CEASE TO DO PERVERSELY: LEARN TO DO WELL.”
Who has ever been able to comprehend the greatness of the Divine Mercies? Even when God is angry with us because of our sins, He feels compassion for us. O merciful wrath thou art enkindled but to succour; thou threatenest but to pardon!
Who has ever been able to comprehend the greatness of the Divine Mercies? David says that God, even while yet angry, feels compassion for us: Thou hast been angry, and hast mercy on us (Ps. lix. 3). “O merciful wrath, thou art enkindled but to succour, thou threatenest but to pardon!” exclaims the Abbot Beroncosius. God shows Himself to us armed with a scourge, but He does so in order that we may become penitent and contrite for the offences we are committing against Him: Thou hast given a warning to them that fear thee: that they may flee before the bow: that thy beloved may be delivered (Ps. lix. 6). He appears with the bow already bent, upon the point of speeding the arrow, but He waits, because He wishes that our fear may bring about amendment, and that thus we may escape chastisement. That thy beloved may be delivered. Give us help from trouble (Ps. lix. 13). This was the prayer of David; and thus ought we to pray. Grant, O Lord, that our afflictions may open our eyes, so that we depart from sin. The Lord is angry. Our sins increase, says St. John Chrysostom, and the scourges of God increase likewise. God is wroth: but with all His anger He says: Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you (Zach. i. 3). Sinners, saith the Lord, you have turned your backs upon Me, and therefore you have constrained Me to deprive you of My grace. Do not oblige me to drive you forever from My face, and punish you in hell without hope of pardon. Have done with sin! Abandon sin and be converted to Me, and I promise to pardon you all your offences, and once more to embrace you as My children.
Turn ye to me … and I will turn to you. Why do you wish to perish? Oh, how tenderly the Lord speaks. And why will you die, O house of Israel (Ezech. xviii. 31). Why will you fling yourselves into the burning furnace of hell? Return ye and live (Ib. 32). Return to Me, I await you with open arms, ready to receive and pardon you. Doubt not this, O sinner. Cease to do perversely. Learn to do well … And then come and accuse me, saith the Lord: if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow (Is. i. 16, 17). Take courage; change your life; come to Me, and if I do not pardon you, accuse Me. Accuse Me of lying and bad faith. But, no, I shall not be unfaithful: your soul now so black will by My grace become as white as snow. I will not punish you if you reform, says the Lord, because I am God, not man. I will not execute the fierceness of my wrath, … because I am God, and not man (Osee, xi. 9). Men never forget an injury, but when God sees a sinner repentant, He forgets all his offences. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done (Ezech. xviii. 22) Let us then at once return to God, but let it be at once. We have offended Him too much already, let us not tempt Him any further. Behold, He calls us, and is ready to pardon us if we repent of our evil deeds, and promise to change our lives.