Chapter 4.

How to recognise whether a man acts without self-reliance and with perfect trust in God

It often happens that self-reliant men think that they have no self-reliance whatever, but put all their trust in God and rest confidently in Him alone. But in practice it is not so. They can ascertain it for themselves, if they judge by what is in them and what happens to them if they fall down. If, when they grieve at their downfall, reproaching and abusing themselves for it, they think: “I shall do this and that, the consequences of my downfall will be effaced and all will be well once more,” this is a sure sign that before the downfall they trusted themselves, instead of trusting God. And the more gloomy and disconsolate their grief, the more it shows that they relied too much on themselves and too little on God; and therefore the grief caused by their downfall is not tempered by

any comfort. If a man does not rely on himself but puts his trust in God, when he falls he is not greatly. surprised and is not overcome with excessive grief, for he knows that it is the result of his own impotence, and, above all, of the weakness of his trust in God, So his downfall increases his distrust of himself and makes him try all the harder to increase and deepen his humble trust in God. And further, hating the vile passions which caused his downfall, he thereupon endures peacefully and calmly the labours of penitence for having offended God; and armed with still more trust in God, he thereupon pursues his enemies with the greatest courage and resoluteness, even unto death,

I should like some people to reflect on what I have said above for, although they think themselves virtuous and spiritual, when they fall into some transgression, they are overcome with anguish and torment and find no peace anywhere. Exhausted by this grief and anguish, which they suffer for no other reason but self-esteem, they run, again urged by self-esteem, to their spiritual father, to be freed of this burden. Yet they should have done this immediately after the downfall and for no other reason but a desire to wash away as quickly as possible the filth of sin which has offended God, and acquire new strength to fight against themselves through the most holy sacrament of repentance and confession.

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