ON THE MULTITUDE OF OUR SINS
Consider first, O my soul, how long it is since thou wast first so miserable as to fall from thy God by sin and how much thy sins have been multiplied since that unhappy hour. Alas! didst thou not, at thy first coming to the use of reason, forfeit thy baptismal innocence, and fall a prey to that hellish monster? It was thy indispensable duty, in consequence of thy creation, of thy redemption, and of thy baptismal engagements, to turn to God, as soon as thou wast capable of knowing him, as to thy first beginning and last end, and to dedicate thyself eternally to his love and service. And didst thou comply with this strict obligation? Lucifer and his companions were cast down headlong into hell, because immediately after they were created, instead of turning to God, as they were bound to do, and dedicating themselves wholly to him they turned away from him to take pride in themselves: and hast thou not imitated these rebels, at the first dawning of thy reason, by turning thy back upon God, and by preferring thy own irregular inclinations, and every senseless toy before him?
Consider 2ndly, how after so wretched a beginning, thou hast gone on for so many years, daily adding sin to sin against God, against thy neighbour, against thyself, by work, by word, or by desire; so that not one day, perhaps not even one hour, has yet passed without frequently offending God, either by commission, or omission, by ignorance, frailty, or malice. Alas! my poor soul, is it not true, that even from thy childhood, thou wast given to lies, passion, and impurity? Is it not true that even then thy thoughts went continually astray from God after lying fooleries and vanities; that thy prayers were without attention; thy confessions without sincerity, repentance, or amendment; and thy whole life and conversation without any true sense of God, or any solid good? And hast thou grown any better by growing older? Or hast thou not rather daily multiplied thy sins; and still more and more corrupted, and defiled all thy powers and faculties, and all thy senses and members, with repeated offences and treasons; and continually perverted and abused all the gifts of God against the giver? O pass over in thy mind, but let it be in the bitterness of thy soul, all thy years; and lament to find that thy sins have been indeed far more numerous than the hairs of thy head, besides an infinite multitude of hidden sins, or sins which thou hast occasioned in others, which keep out of sight at present, but will all one day appear against thee.
Consider 3rdly, to the end that thou mayest make a better judgment of the immense number of thy offenses and transgressions, how little thou hast complied in any part of thy life, with the great duty of loving God with thy whole heart; of dedicating thy whole self to his service, and of directing by a pure intention, all thy thoughts, words, and actions to him; how little restraint thou hast put upon thy natural inclinations, too strongly bent on evil from thy very childhood; how little guard thou hast kept upon thy roving thoughts and imaginations; how little attention thou hast had, not to offend in words nor to give occasion of offence to others, &c. Reflect also how much of thy precious time thou hast squandered away; how many graces thou hast received in vain; how little thou hast corresponded with the divine calls and inspirations; how little use thou hast made of the talents with which thou hast been intrusted; and how very ill thou hast discharged thyself of thy stewardship in every part of thy life. And then see what armies of sin will presently rise up before thy eyes, and stand staring thee in the face. And how wilt thou dare, after so much guilt, and so much ingratitude, which is a perpetual aggravation of every one of thy sins, to lift up thy eyes any more to heaven, or so much as to name the holy name of God which thou hast so often profaned.
Conclude to be always humble, by a true sense and daily remembrance of thy innumerable sins; to offer up daily for them the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart; and to embrace henceforward a penitential life, as the best security after so much guilt.