Useful Temptations

Cardinal Manning explains that “all the manifold temptations of life are used by God for these two purposes: first, to try us, as I have said, and to increase our merit, and therefore our reward; and secondly, to sanctify the soul—out of the very temptations themselves God creates the discipline of sanctification.”

“Every such act of resistance to temptation is, first of all, an act of faith. It is done for motives of faith, it is done because we appreciate the goodness and love of God. We make a deliberate choice between God and the temptation. . . . Every single act of resisting temptation obtains merit and reward in the sight of God, and they who are the most tempted obtain the most merit, if they faithfully resist.”

“Until a man is tried in temptation, he does not know himself. . . . A man who thinks that he is afar off from being proud, let him find himself superior to his neighbours; a man who thinks he is in no danger of being covetous, let him suddenly become rich; a man who thinks he is in no danger of falling into particular temptations, some day finds himself surrounded by them—he then learns what he is.”

“Temptation teaches us to know what we are. It throws a light in upon our hearts, and we learn that before God we are spotted and stained, and full of tumultuous affections and passions, with crookedness in the will, darkness in the understanding; and when we come to the knowledge of this, it breaks down the loftiness of our vainglory. It is a very unpleasant discovery, but very wholesome—nothing so salutary as for a man to find his own great instability, that he cannot trust himself. When he has come to know that he cannot trust himself, then he has come to know his need of the grace of God.”

“God uses temptations to chastise us; for the temptations which beset us are nine times in ten the effects and the consequences of the faults and sins of our life past.”

“Lastly, He uses temptations to awaken and excite in our hearts a hatred of sin.”

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

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