While it is right to resist great temptations with invincible
courage, and all such victories will be most valuable, still there
is perhaps more absolute profit to our souls in resisting little
ones. For although the greater temptations exceed in power, there
are so infinitely more in number of little temptations, that a
victory over them is fully as important as over the greater but
No one will question but that wolves and bears are more
dangerous than flies, but they do not worry and annoy us, or try
our patience as these do. While is not a hard thing to abstain
from murder, but it is very difficult to avoid all passing fits of
anger, which assail us at every moment.
A man or woman can easily keep from adultery, but it is less
easy to abstain from all words and glances which are disloyal.
While is easy to keep from stealing another man's goods, but often
difficult to resist coveting them; easy to avoid bearing false
witness in direct judgment, difficult to be perfectly truthful in
conversation; easy to refrain from getting drunk, difficult to be
absolutely sober; easy not to wish for a neighbour's death,
difficult not to wish anything contrary to his interests; easy to
keep from slander, difficult to avoid all contempt.
In short, all these minor temptations to anger, suspicion,
jealousy, envy, levity, vanity, duplicity, affectation, foolish
thoughts, and the like, are a perpetual trial even to those who
are most devout and most resolute; and therefore, my daughter, we
ought carefully and diligently to prepare for this warfare.
Be assured that every victory won over these little foes is as
a precious stone in the crown of glory which God prepares for us
in Paradise. So, while awaiting and making ready for a stedfast
and brave resistance to great temptations should they come, let us
not fail diligently to fight against these meaner, weaker foes.