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Absolve from all their sins? We hope well of ourselves,—that the Almighty will one day change our lukewarmness into zeal; and we despair of salvation, and regard as incapable of happiness, a great part of society, whom ignorance, and the misfortune of a bad education, more than a want ,of moral principle, and of Religion, plunge into criminal excesses. Do we think, that they who lead a miserable laborious life on earth, are to endure misery, without end, after death? God forbid! It is towards these, principally, that the Almighty will not exercise the severity of his justice: to them his bowels of compassion are always open; *' He shall save the poor and needy, and preserve "alive the souls of the poor."
But you will say, perhaps, that these are not the motives which have restrained you, and which have hitherto prevented the exercise of your ministry, in order to' correct the errors, and reclaim the vices, which are too generally prevalent in every parish: you are afraid, you allege, of not being esteemed; of passing for a violent and imprudent Pastor, and of not producing any other fruit from your zeal, than the hatred of your parishioners.
There is, I allow, a zeal, proceeding from temper or constitution, which borders nearly on imprudence. But the zeal which proceeds from love, is mild and patient; it does not provoke, it does not enflame; it hates the sin, but it loves the sin-» aer; it opposes patience to insensibility; it reckons not its troubles and its solicitude; it feels, indeed, the most pungent grief—not for its useless labour, but for the danger of those, whose unto•wardness is the sole cause of disappointment and mortification; it returns with greater fervour, and more abundant love, after having been often resisted by perverseness, and withstood by insensibility: it tries every thing, prayers, entreaties, holy indignation, in order to bring back the sheep that have strayed. No! my brethren, -let us not substitute humour for zeal: let us display towards those committed to our charge, more of love than of authority; let us endeavour to persuade, rather than to subdue, them: let us not mingle the passions and the severity of the man, with the zeal and forbearance of the Minister: let us not undertake too much at once, lest we fail in every thing: let not self-love induce us to urge too importunately a work, which patience, directed by judgment, may at length, happily, accomplish: let us oppose to the obstacles we may meet with, zeal, suggested by mildness, and tempered by love.
Suffer me, in conclusion, to exhort you to cultivate in your breasts, the Christian graces of zeal, love, patience, vigilance, labour. And enforce your labours by your prayers. Speak more frequently to God, of the irregularities of the souls for whom you are to give account, than to themselves: complain more frequently to him, of the obstacles which" your lukewarmness throws in the way of their amendment, than of those occasioned by their own obstinacy: attribute to yourselves alone, the little fruit produced by your ministry; as a tender father, excuse, in his presence the faults of your children, and bring your accusations only against yourselves; bear them continually in your heart, when you approach the throne of grace, that your sorrow and lamentations over their trespasses, may warrant the success of your cares, and promote the efficacy of your instructions; and remember that you will always labour in vain, if your prayers do not draw down upon your labours that grace, which can alone render you useful. "Pray "without ceasing. And may the God of peace "sanctify you wholly. Amen, amen 1"
ON SOLICITUDE TO SUPPRESS VICE.
I bear them record, that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.