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.
§ I. Of another Part of this Motive that obliges us to the Service of God, which is, that we are to receive our Perfection from him.
It is not justice alone that obliges to the service of our Creator: our own necessities force us to address ourselves to him, if we desire to arrive at the happiness and perfection of our being, which is the end of our creation. For the better understanding hereof, you must conceive that, generally speaking, whatever is born is not born with all its perfections: it has something, but it wants much more yet, and none but he that began the work can rightly finish it. So that no being can be perfected by any other cause than that which put the first hand to it. This is the reason why all effects have an inclination and tendency towards those particular causes which produced them, that they may receive their last stroke and perfection from them. The plants love the sun, and run as deep as they can into the earth which shot them forth. The fishes continue in the waters where they were first engendered. A chicken runs under the hen's wings as soon as it is hatched, and follows her up and down for shelter. A lamb, as soon as it is brought forth, runs after its ewe, and can distinguish it from a thousand others of the same color. It follows her without ever losing sight of her, and seems to say, "Here it is I received whatsoever I have, and it is here I will receive whatsoever I want." This is what usually happens in the works of nature; and if those of art had any sense or motion, they would do the same. Should a painter draw a piece and leave out the eyes, what would it do were it sensible of its wants? whither would it go ? Not to the palaces of kings or princes, who, as such, could never be able to supply its defects, but to the master's house, that he who drew the first strokes might give the last, and finish it quite. Is not this your own case, O rational creature? You are not yet finished. You have, it is true, received something, but there is a great deal yet wanting to make you as complete and perfect as you should be. You are scarce any more than a rough draught. You have received nothing of the beauty and lustre you are to have. This you will be very sensible of, if you do but observe the propension of nature itself, which, being always in want, never rests, but is continually craving and wishing for more. God thought fit to starve you out, that your own wants might force you to have recourse to him. For this reason it was he left you at first unfinished. His not giving you at your creation all that you stood in need of, was an effect not of covetousness, but of love. It was not to leave you poor, but to make you humble. It was not to forsake you in your necessities, but to oblige you to address yourself to him. For since you are really poor and blind, why do you not go to the Father that made you, and to the painter that first began to draw you, that he may give you what you have not yet received ? Consider whether David did not understand this secret, when he said, Thy hands, O Lord I have made me, and formed me : give me understanding, and I will learn thy commandments; Ps. cxviii. 73. As if he had said, all that is in me is the work of thy hands, O Lord! but thy work is not yet completed. I am not quite finished, O Lord, because the eyes of my soul are not yet opened. I have not light enough to see what is convenient for me. Whom shall I have recourse to for the obtaining what I .want, unless to him who has given me what I have ? Grant me, O Lord! that light which is necessary for me. Enlighten the eyes of this wretch that has been born blind, that he may see thee, and that thou, O God! mayest finish what thou hast already begun in me.
As, therefore, there is none but this great God that can perfect the understanding, so neither is there any beside him, that can complete and rectify the will, with all the other faculties of the soul; that so he, who first began the work, may finish it. It is this Lord alone, who satisfies without leaving any want, who enlarges without noise, who enriches without vanity, and gives a solid contentment, without possessing many things: with whom the creature lives, though poor, yet content; though rich, yet destitute; though alone, yet happy; though deprived of all things, yet possessing all. It is upon this occasion the wise man says, with so much reason, One is as it were rich, when he hath nothing; and another is as it were poor, though he hath great riches; Prov. xiii. 7. By this we are taught, that the poor man, who has God for his inheritance, as St. Francis had, is truly rich, and that he whom God takes no notice of is very poor, let him be ever so rich in worldly possessions.
What advantage have great and wealthy men by all their riches, if they are, nevertheless, racked with such cares and diseases, that all they have cannot give them any ease? Or what comfort can rich clothes, a plentiful table, and chests crammed with gold and treasures, bring to an unquiet and troubled mind ? How often, and with what restlessness, does the rich man turn and toss about every night in his down-bed; nor can all his wealth help him to the least wink of sleep, or give any rest to his disturbed conscience? It follows, from what has been said, that we are infinitely obliged to serve God, not only on account of his benefits, but for whatsover else contributes to the making our happiness complete.