Of the Importance of Salvation
A Spiritual Retreat for One Day in Every Month
Of the Importance of Salvation
by Fr. Jean Croiset
First Point. The Business of our Salvation is the most Important of all Business.
Second Point. The Business of our Salvation is our only Business.
Consider that no business is of so great importance to us as the business of our salvation; an eternity of happiness or misery depends on the success of this ?] other affairs are only permitted as they are subservient to this great work: If we do lose this, we lose all; for we lose God, who is all Good, and without whom there can be no Good; if we fail in this he is lost to ?] and lost forever, without recovery.
Salvation is our own business, everything else is foreign to us; in other things we do the business of our children, our friends, our family, our country, or of the community to which we belong, and not precisely our own business; everything else is a business of time, this of eternity.
If we lose other business, though of the highest importance, we may find a remedy; or if we do not we shall be no losers, provided we succeed in this. The loss of our souls is the only irreparable loss, eternity itself will not be sufficient to deplore it.
Shall we be able to comfort ourselves with the thoughts that we have been successful in all our other business of no consequence, and have only neglected this, which is the only business of eternity? It is no matter though we live obscurely and forgotten, without friends or support, and die poor, provided we secure our salvation.But what will all our riches and power, all our knowledge and wisdom avail us if we lose our souls? Though all the world should conspire together, they will never be able to deprive a man of heaven, and make him miserable to all eternity: Neither will they be able to make one damned soul happy, or so much as mitigate his torments. What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Or what can he give in exchange for his soul?
Is it possible that this business of eternity is the only business of consequence we have to do, and that yet we should neglect this the most, and lay it least to heart?
We fancy that our studies, our trade, our diversions, our visits and conversation, are of great importance to us, they take up all our time, we can never find leisure enough for them, we are unwilling to defer them; but when we should think seriously of our souls, we make no difficulty of deferring; we imagine it is too soon, and that we shall have time enough, and yet (which is still more surprising) we are never at leisure to set about it.
Certainly we must have odd notions of eternal happiness, since we are so careless of securing it; would we be content to take no more pains, and spend no more time in our studies and in temporal affairs, than we do in what concerns our eternal salvation?
If our salvation depended on another, could he have so little zeal or charity as to neglect it more than we do ourselves? Though we know it depends wholly on our own care. What pains does every man take in his calling? If we have a child to provide for, if we have a design to join in partnership with a merchant, how careful are we to inform ourselves, to examine, to advise with our friends? What measures do we not observe? What precautions do we not take? We think we can never be too sure. But when we are to spend a little time for salvation, we think a very little too much.
Salvation is the business of eternity, but it must be done in time; and we have need of all our time for it; God gives us our whole life to think of it; he judged it was all little enough, but we imagine it may be done in less.
If we spend in working out our salvation the hundredth part of the time and pains we throw away in worldly business, we should soon be great saints. This is the only necessary business we can have, and yet we hardly allot a little time for it, nay, we grudge it even that little.
By our proceedings one would think that we believe God our debtor, and obliged to us for saved.
If a man of business or letters pass one whole day in acquitting himself of the duties of a Christian, he looks upon that day is lost; but we spend whole months in vain studies, or in worldly business, and call this spending the time well.
Salvation is our great and chief business; now a man’s chief business takes up all his thoughts, and hardly gives him time to think of any other; and if this succeeds he comforts himself for the miscarriage of the rest.
We commonly put off the care of our salvation to our last sickness; that is, we put off the business of eternity, the most important business we have, and which requires all our lives, to a time when we are incapable of following the slightest business in the world, when we are indeed incapable of anything.
Is God mistaken, who tells us, this only is of consequence? Is he deceived in the disposition of his Providence, and in all his care, which tends only to this? Is he, in whom are all good things, and who is all himself, so little to be valued, that we can be indifferent whether we lose him or no? Whence is all that Weeping, that cruel despair of the damned souls, if what they have lost be not worth our seeking? If everlasting misery be so slight a business, why do we tremble at the thoughts of eternity? and if we believe it so terrible, how can we be at rest while we are so careless about it, and in so much danger?
My God! How many days of grace have I abused? How many precious hours have I let pass unprofitably? Wretch that I am, to spend so much time in doing nothing: But how much more wretched shall I be if I do not now at length begin seriously to work out my salvation?