I have dwelt thus at length on these points, on a due examination
of which all true knowledge of our spiritual progress rests; as to
an examination of sins, that rather pertains to the confessions of
those who are not eager to advance. But it is well to take
ourselves to task soberly concerning these different matters,
investigating how we have been going on since we made good
resolutions concerning them, and what notable faults we have
But the summary of all is to examine into our passions; and if
you are worried by so detailed an investigation as that already
suggested, you may make a briefer inquiry as to what you have
been, and how you have acted, in some such manner as this:-- In
your love of God, your neighbour, and yourself.
In hatred for the sin which is in yourself, for the sin which
you find in others, since you ought to desire the extirpation of
both; in your desires concerning riches, pleasure, and honour.
In fear of the perils of sin, and of the loss of this world's
goods; we fear the one too much and the other too little.
In hope, fixed overmuch it may be on things of this world and
the creature; too little on God and things eternal.
In sadness, whether it be excessive concerning unimportant
In gladness, whether it be excessive concerning unworthy objects.
In short, examine what attachments hinder your spiritual life,
what passions engross it, and what chiefly attracts you.
It is by testing the passions of the soul, one by one, that we
ascertain our spiritual condition, just as one who plays the lute
tries every string, touching those which are discordant, either
raising or lowering them. Thus having tried our soul as to love,
hate, desire, fear, hope, sadness and joy, if we find our strings
out of tune for the melody we wish to raise, which is God's Glory,
we must tune them afresh with the help of His Grace, and the
counsel of our spiritual father.