Praise and glory to almighty God for all his works! Everlasting honor to Him Who has begun to work His grace in you. When the earth is covered with snow and frost, we surely see that the seeds sown in it cannot germinate in any but those very few places warmed by the rays of the sun where plants and flowers spring up through the sun's doing. The nature and inherent virtue of the seeds can be discerned from these.
In a similar way, the whole world seems to me to be covered now with the hard frost of pride and greed and lust, so much so that, alas, there are very few people in whose hearts the perfect love of God can dwell, to judge from their words and deeds. One can thus be sure that just as God's friends rejoiced when they saw Lazarus raised from the dead for the glory of God, so too now God's friends rejoice whenever they see someone rise from the three aforementioned vices, which truly constitute an eternal death.
One should also note that, just as Lazarus incurred a twofold enmity after his resurrection (for he had both physical enemies, that is, people who were God's enemies and who hated Lazarus in a physical manner, and spiritual enemies, that is, the devils, who never want to be God's friends, and these hated Him in a spiritual manner), so too all those who now rise up from mortal sins, wishing to keep chaste and to flee pride and greed, also incur a double enmity.
God's human enemies want to inflict a twofold physical harm on them. The devils, too, try to injure and hurt them in a twofold way spiritually. First of all worldly people reproach them with their words.
Second, if they can, they also cause them trouble with their deeds, trying to make them like themselves in their action and conduct and to draw them away from their good undertakings. However, this man of God, newly converted to the spiritual life, can easily overcome these ill-willed people, if he remains patient in the face of the words directed against him, and if he then carries out his good deeds of a spiritual and divine character even more frequently and fervently in their sight.
The devils rely on two other methods of foiling him. Their great desire, first of all, is to make God's new servant fall back into sin. If they are unable to do this, then they apply themselves to the task of getting him to carry out his good works in an unreasonable and imprudent manner, such as imprudent fasting or keeping vigil beyond due measure. Their intention is to wear out his energy and thus make him weaker in God's service.
The best remedy for the first danger is the frequent and wholesome confession of his sins and the true, inner contrition of his heart over his failings.
The best remedy for the second danger is a humility of the kind that makes him rather obey some experienced spiritual director than make his own personal decisions about what to do and what penances to carry out. This medicine is indeed so beneficial and excellent that, even if the giver of advice is less worthy than the receiver, one can have the very sure hope of the cooperation of divine wisdom, that is, God Himself, to help that giver of advice to give the advice most useful to the receiver, provided both of them have the perfect desire of acting for the honor and glory of God.
Now then, my beloved friend, since both of us have gotten ourselves up from our sins, let us ask God to deign to grant His help to both of us - to me in speaking, to you in obeying. We must beseech God for His help all the more because you, who are rich, wise, and noble, have condescended to ask the advice of me, who am unworthy, ignorant, and not very intelligent.
I truly hope that God shall want to have regard for your humility and make what I write to you in his honor beneficial to you both in body and in soul.