THE THREE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES EXPOUNDED.
SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
A. It is a divine virtue, or gift of God, whereby we love God above all things, for himself; and our neighbor as ourselves, for God's sake, as he requires.* Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind, etc. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, St. Matt. xxii. 37, etc. God is charity, says St. John, and he that abides in charity, abides in God, and God in him, 1 John iv. 16.
Q. What is it to love God above all things?
A. It is to prefer him, his divine will, and commands, before all things, purely for his sake, so as to be willing to lose all things, even life itself, rather than the grace or love of God by mortal sin. If any one loves me, he will keep my commands, St. John xiv. 23. And,again; this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments, 1 John v. 3. He that loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me, Matt. x. 37, says our Saviour Christ. All transitory happiness is infinitely below the end for which God made us, and therefore is as much below our love; God having made us for himself, nothing but God can make us happy; the love of the world ever leaves us worse than it found us, it fills us with a thousand disquiets and solicitudes ; the love of God is the only happy love ; when once we come to taste how sweet it is to love God, the soul is charmed therewith, it despises all other things, as rivals infinitely below him; the more we love God, more still we shall discover in him perfections inviting us to love him : nor we cannot pretend to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, as he requires, if we prefer our life, liberty, riches, pleasures, or any created thing whatever before him; we must choose rather to lose all than him, who most, and only deserves our love. He is our Father, Creator, Conserver, Redeemer, etc. Ought we not then to give him our hearts, our souls, and all? Son, give me thy heart, Prov. xxiii. 26. And St. Paul says, If any one love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed, 1 Cor. xvi. 22. Set your affections on the things that are above, and not on the things that are upon the earth, Col. iii. 2, which never made any one happy, nor can be able to do it.
Q. What is it to love our neighbor as ourselves ? who is our neighbor ? and in what order is charity to proceed ?
A. To wish him as much good, for body and soul, as to ourselves ; to do him no wrong, by thought, word, or deed; to be ready to do him good, and hinder any harm we can from befalling him, either in respect of soul or body, chiefly for the love of God, and to love him as ourselves, that is, as well as ourselves, not by equality, but by likeness ; for as our Saviour says, All things whatsoever ye would that men do to you, do you also them, St. Matt. vii. 12. And again ; This is my command, that you love one another, as I have loved you, St. John xv. 12. By this, all men shall know that you are my disciples, if you love one another, John xiii. 35. Above all things, have always mutual charity among yourselves, 1 Peter iv. 8, which surely they want, who either upon account of religion, or any other pretence, hate their neighbor. Now, our neighbors are all mankind, even our enemies, whom we are bound to love, according to that of our Saviour, I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to them who hate you, St. Matt. v. 44. The order of charity is this; first, love God; secondly, our own souls; thirdly, our neighbor's souls; fourthly, our own life and body; fifthly, the life and body of our neighbor; sixthly, our own fame and temporal goods; seventhly, the fame and temporal goods of our neighbor. Then, in necessity, relations, carnal, spiritual, and civil, are to be preferred to others.