XCIII. You are good; you want to be better, and you are making great efforts in the details of life ; but I am afraid that you are encroaching rather too much upon the inner life in order to adapt it to the demands of society, and that you are not sufficiently denying the very inmost self. When we fail thoroughly to attack the internal stronghold of self-will concerning those things we love best, and most jealously, I will tell you what ensues : on the one side, great impetuosity, sharpness, and hardness of that same self-will ; on the other hand, a scrupulous notion of sym- metrical rule, which resolves itself into a mere observance of les bienseances. Thus externally comes great restraint, and internally a very lively state of rebellion an alto- gether intolerable struggle. Try, then, to work a little less from outside, and a little more from within. Take the most keen affections which hold sway in your heart, and place them without condi- tion or reserve in God's Hands, to be crushed and slain by Him. Resign to Him your natural haughtiness, your worldly wisdom, your pride in the greatness of your house, your dread of disrespect or want of consideration in the world, your sharp severity towards whatever is unseemly. I am less afraid of your temper than of other things : you know and mistrust it; in spite of good resolutions it carries you away, and in consequence it involves humiliation ; and thus it will tend to counteract other and more dan- gerous faults. I should be less grieved to see you pet- tish, cross, brusque, wanting in self-command, and as a result thoroughly ashamed of yourself, than strictly cor- rect and irreprehensible in all externals, but fastidious, haughty, harsh, hard, ready to take offence, self-sufficient. Seek your real strength in prayer. This kind of human strength and rigid observance of detail in which you delight will never cure you. But accustom yourself in God's Sight, and through experience of your incurable weakness, to compassion and forbearance towards the imperfections of others. Real prayer will soften your heart and make it gentle, pliable, accessible, kindly. Would you like God to be as critical and hard towards you as you often are towards your neighbour ? You are very strict in externals, and very lax inwardly; and while so jealously watchful over exterior graces, you have no scruple in letting things inward languish, or in secret resistance to God. You fear God more than you love Him. You want to pay Him with acts, for which you expect a receipt, instead of giving Him your all unre- servedly. They who give all unreservedly need no accounts. You indulge in certain half-concealed cling- ings to your grandeur, your reputation, your comforts. If you really look into the state of things between God and your soul, you will find that there are certain limits beyond which you refuse to go in offering yourself to Him. People often hover around such reservations, making believe not to see them, for fear of self-reproach, guarding them as the apple of the eye. If one were to break down one of these reservations, you would be touched to the quick, and inexhaustible in your reasons for self-justification, a very sure proof of the life of the evil. The more you shrink from giving up any such reserved point, the more certain it is that it needs to be given up. If you were not fast bound by it, you would not make so many efforts to convince yourself that you are free. It is but too true that these and the like frailties hinder God's work in us. We move continually in a vicious circle round self, only thinking of God in connection with ourselves, and making no progress in self-renunciation, lowering of pride, or attaining simplicity. Why is it that the vessel does not make way? Is the wind wanting? Nowise; the Spirit of Grace breathes on it, but the vessel is bound by invisible anchors in the depths of the sea. The fault is not God's; it is wholly ours. If we will search thoroughly, we shall soon see the hidden bonds which detain us. That point in which we least mistrust ourselves is precisely that which needs most mistrust. Do not bargain with God with a vie\f to what will cost you least and bring you in most comfort. Seek only self-denial and the Cross. Love, and live by love alone. Let Love do whatsoever He will to root out self-love. Do not be content to pray morning and evening, but live in prayer all day long ; and just as through the day you digest your meals, so all day long, amid your varying occupations, digest the sustenance of love and truth which you have imbibed in prayer. Let that continual prayer, that life of love, which means death to self, spread out from your fixed seasons of prayer as from a centre over whatever you do. All should become prayer, that is, a loving consciousness of God's Presence, whether it be social intercourse or business. Such a course as this will insure you real, lasting peace.