Swimming Against the Stream

Cardinal Manning notes that Satan tempts those who live voluntarily in sin; but, “they are not the chief subjects of his temptations, for this reason: they are his servants already, they are already doing his will, they already share his own mind, they already love those evils to which he tempts them. Satan leaves his own servants to do their work for him. . . . The blasphemer is not tempted to blasphemy. Why should he be? He blasphemes already. The unbeliever is not tempted to unbelief—he has lost his faith.”

But “if any one of them strives to return to God, he becomes the subject of a twofold temptation. . . . If any of you have tried to break off a fault, I have no doubt you have found that you have been more tempted to that same fault from the very time you began to master it. Need I tell you why? Before, you were swimming with the stream; but when you tried to break off that fault you were swimming against the stream, and you felt the strength of the stream against you.”

Satan “is not only very strong in his temptations, but he is very subtle; and when men begin to break off sins of one kind, he will leave them perfectly quiet on that side, and will tempt them on the other to something else which is altogether unlike their former faults. As, for instance, if any man has been tempted to gross sins and has gained the mastery, he will find himself tempted to spiritual sins, which, casting him down, will bring him back to where he was before. . . . Whoever begins, for example, to mortify such a sin as excess in food, if he gains the mastery, will find himself tempted perhaps to some spiritual sin, such as anger, ill-temper, or, it may be, vainglory at what he has achieved.”

Quotations from Henry Edward Manning, Sin and Its Consequences, 2d ed. (London: Burns and Oates, 1874).

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