Instead of lodging the lion and the leopard and the wolf!
(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)
"With authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him!" Mark 1:27
No word of the Gospel sounds more gladsomely in my ears than this. For the unclean spirits have invaded the citadel of my soul, and asserted their hateful domination over me. I have no strength to drive them out — but, my Lord, You can rescue me from their hideous craft and polluting bondage! Every deadly sin may be defeated by the virtue of Your Cross, and the omnipotence of Your Spirit.
There is what Dante calls the hungry lion of Pride. In my pride . . .
I claim a false superiority,
I exalt myself arrogantly and unreasonably,
I am never satisfied,
I am never content with the honor I receive. Always I am clamoring for more, and more, and more.
Lord Jesus Christ, subdue this demon of Pride!
Then there is what Dante calls the spotted leopard of Sensuality. It is not simply in my hot youth that I give harborage to corrupting imaginations, which sink me beneath my true dignity. They are horribly persistent. They follow me into my riper age. Again and again they reappear. A story in the newspaper makes them recur, or a too suggestive picture, or an impure word which I overhear as I hurry along the street.
Wrestle, O Christ, with the spotted leopard in me, and kill him outright! Forsake me not, until my hidden thoughts are as sinless as Your own.
And there is what Dante calls the famished wolf of Covetousness. I crave money, crave it with a hunger which refuses to be appeased. If I have managed to secure a little gain, and am of some account in the social sphere — I am full of eagerness to add to my store. If I am poor, I am discontented, and forever scheming and toiling for more money.
Lord Jesus, when You were here, You had nothing of the world's riches — and yet Your heart lacked for no good thing. Without wallet or purse, You were crowned with the love of the Father and the fullness of the Spirit. Teach me Your secret, and let the wolf of Covetousness be slain too.
You are all I want. Come to me, and dwell patiently and victoriously within me — until I am holy as You are holy. Then, instead of lodging the lion and the leopard and the wolf, and many another unclean and loathly beast — I shall be conformed to the Lamb and the Dove!