Amid the present darkness and distress this little book may help to minister consolation and inspire drooping hearts with courage, by reminding them that suffering is the Church's heritage, the very condition of her well-being, nay, her highest privilege, inasmuch as it renders her most like to her Divine Spouse and is the pledge and surety of her triumphs. As of the Lord Himself (Luke 24:26), so of His Church it may be truly said that she ought to suffer these things and so to enter into her glory. Her most signal successes have been preceded, and indeed attended, by humiliations and apparent failures, and have been accomplished, like all the great designs of God, under the heavy weight of the Cross. It is not, however, of exterior trials and sufferings that the author principally treats, or of those obvious temptations to which all Christians are exposed, but of those deep interior miseries, those subtle devices of self-love, those illusions and preternatural assaults of the evil one, which, in some form or other, they must be prepared to encounter who strive to pursue the arduous paths of spiritual perfection. And if testimony were wanted to the high character and the great practical usefulness of the work, it might be sufficient to cite the words of the doctors in theology who were commissioned to examine and report upon its contents previous to its publication in the year 1671. From the terms in which their approbation is couched, it will be seen that the doctrine which the treatise enforces, as it is necessary for all times, so is particularly applicable to our own, when men who profess to represent the highest intellects of this boasted age of progress are inviting Christian people to exchange the truths of divine faith and the life-giving lessons of the Cross for the base, uncertain tenets of a sensual philosophy and of a false and godless science. " It is a book," say they, " as full of instruction for souls which desire to rise to perfection as for those whose office it is to direct them on their way. We have found in it a teaching all divine, which the light of faith alone is capable of rendering intelligible to those who read it, and which divine love alone can enable them to relish. It is a knowledge which God hides from worldlings who allow themselves to be guided by their senses, and from men of mundane policy who regulate their actions by the sole light of human reason. This science of the Cross, unhappily, is ignored, neglected, or despised by the greater part of men, comprising even a number of the learned, who, devoting all their life to the study of the speculative sciences, pay no regard to the science and the maxims of Jesus Crucified, ' in whom' nevertheless ' are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge' (Col. 2:3). It may be hoped," they add, " that the reading of this book will inspire those who peruse it with the desire of dying wholly to themselves and following Jesus Christ, seeing that it is replete with the unction of the Spirit of God."