Chapter 82

How we should not Believe all we Hear

THE DISCIPLE. Lord, help me in my trouble, for vain is the help of man.(Ps.60:11) How often have I found no loyalty where I expected to find it! And how often have I found it where I least expected! It is useless to place our hope in man; salvation is to be found in You alone, O God.(Ps.37:39) In all that befalls us, we bless You, O Lord our God.

We are weak and unstable, changeable and easily deceived. None of us can guard himself so carefully and completely that he is never deceived nor in doubt. But who ever trusts in You, Lord, and seeks You with a pure heart, does not easily fall. And if he encounters any trouble, however great it be, You will swiftly deliver or comfort him; for You never abandon those who trust in You to the end. Rare indeed is a faithful friend, who stands by his firend in all trouble. And You, Lord, are the most faithful of all friends, and there is none like you.

How wise was the holy soul (Saind Agatha) who said,'My mind is firmly established and grounded in Christ.' Were this true of myself, I should never fear any man and no bitter words could disturbe me. We cannot forsee the future or provide against evils to come and if things that we expect often harm us, how can unexpected events do otherwise than seriously harm us? Why have I not made better provision for my unfortunate self and why have I trusted so readily in others? For we are but mortal men and nothing if not weak, even if many people imagine and say that we are angels. Ther is none in whom I can trust, Lord, save Yourself, who are the Truth and who neither deceives nor can be deceived. But every man is deceitful,(Rom.3:4) weak, unstable and fallible, especially in what he says so that we should not at once believe even what at first appears to be true.

Your wisdom warns us to beware of man,(Matt.10:17) since a man's enemies are those of his own household(Micha 7:5) and we may not believe any who say, 'He is here', or 'He is there'.(Matt.24:23) I hae learned this to my cost and I only hope that it may make me more careful and correct my foolishness. 'Be discreet,' says one: 'Be discreet and keep what I tell you to yourself.' And while I remain silent about it, imagining it to be a secret, he cannot himself keep the silence which he enjoined on me but at once betrays both himself and me and goes on his way. From such tales and from such indiscreet folk protect me O Lord! Do not let me fall into their power, nor behave in the same way myself. Make my conversation truthful and trustworthy, far removed from slyness. For what I do not tolerate in others, I must myself avoid at all costs.

To remain silent about others makes for peace and goodwill, neither believing all that is said nor repeating what one has heard. There are few to whom we should open our hearts, but we should always seek You, who see into all hearts. We may not allow ourselves to be carried to and fro by the windy blast of words, but rather pray that all our ife, both public and private, may be ordered in conformity to Your Will.

A sure way of retaining the grace of heaven is to disregard outward appearances and diligently to cultivate such things as foster amendment of life and fervour of soul, rather than to cultivate those qualities that seem most popular.

Very many people have been harmed by publicity and by lightly bestowed praise of their virtues. But grace is most powerful when preserved in silence in this transitory life which consists wholly of temptation and warfare.

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