Chapter 31

On the Joys of a Good Conscience

The glory of a good man is the witness of a good conscience (2 Cor. 1:12). Preserve a quiet conscience, and you will always have joy. A quiet conscience can endure much, and remains joyful in all trouble, but an evil conscience is always fearful and uneasy (I John 2:31). You may rest easy if your heart does not reproach you, and you are happy only when you have done right. The wicked never know true happiness, nor do they enjoy inward peace, for `There is no peace for the wicked, (Isa.48:22) says the Lord. And although they say, `We are at peace; no evil happens to us, and no one will dare to harm us,' yet God's anger will rise suddenly, all their works will be brought to nothing, and their plans perish.

To glory in suffering is not hard for one who truly loves God, for so to glory is to glory in the Cross of our Lord (Rom.5:3; Gal.5:14). Short-lived is the glory that is granted and received by men, and sorrow is ever its companion. The glory of good men is in their own conscience, not in the tongues of men. For the joy of the Saints is from God and in God, and their joy is in the truth (I Cor.13:6). Whoever desires true and lasting glory cares nothing for worldly glory. And whoever craves worldly glory, or who does not at heart despise it, shows himself to have little love for the glory of heaven. Great tranquillity of heart is his who cares for neither praise nor blame.

The man who has a clean conscience rests easily content, and is at peace. You are none the holier for being praised, and none the worse for being blamed. You remain what you are, nor can you be accounted greater than you are in the sight of God. If you take heed to what you are inwardly, you will not mind what men say of you; for while man looks on outward appearance, God looks into your heart. Man sees your actions, but God your motives. The sign of a humble soul is always to be doing good, and to think little of oneself. To desire no comfort from creatures is a sign of great purity and inward faith.

When a man seeks no other witness but himself, he shows that he puts his whole trust in God. For, as Saint Paul says, `Not he who commends himself is approved, but he whom God commends (2 Cor.10:18).' To live inwardly to God, and not to be bound by worldly affections, is the proper state of a spiritual man.

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