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errare, et parlando et scrivendo non disputo per amor de la vit. toria per se stessa (perche ogni reputatione et vittoria stimo, nemica a Dio, vilissima, et senza punto di honore, dove non è la verità) ma per amor della vera sapienza, et studio della vera contemplazione, m'affatico, mi crucio, mi tormento.

INTRODUCTION

- ! Now, if we could look into the triumphant souls

of the saints we would doubtless find that in the course of their progress they came through extraordinary hazards, and that one single moment longer in dallying, one backward glance towards lost joys and die verlorne Schöne of the world, one last kiss of the hand to the doomed cities of pleasure they were forsaking, would have cost them their aureoles. In this great doctrine of spiritual chances I am not skilled. But if I were a religious believer I would certainly vindicate for myself the right to believe that since the road to God is at best a cloudy road, a baffling and circuitous road, it may matter little to the Infinite Charity at which point of it death overtakes us. The old theory which made a man's immortal wellbeing depend on the exact spiritual condition in which he left the world ought to be repulsive to any one who considers the human soul to be worth immortality at all. For character is not merely an affair of chronological sequence, or of regular and consistent progression. Rather, it must be viewed under the form of an organism which, like every other organism, keeps returning upon itself through successive phases of health and disease. And on close examination it will be found that this ambiguous movement is characteristic of the highest type of spiritual life. For even the saints, if we are to believe their confessions and their prayers, had their moments of temptation and forgetfulness, their moods of uncharitable and bitter judgments when the old stain rose again through the whiteness of their lives. But supposing God had suddenly called them, are we to believe that their struggle and mastery and sainthood would have counted for nothing simply because in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, they were found unprepared ? And what right has any one who believes in God and immortality to believe in the finality of evil even in the case of a man whom death has plucked like a rotten fruit ? Under so exalted a view of human destiny it might have been expected that man would not be considered merely like a withering plant which, once it has begun to wither, must only wither away. If this great belief were more to me than only a hope and a fearful looking for

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