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.
CHAPTER IX. OF THE NINTH MOTIVE THAT OBLIGES US TO VIRTUE, WHICH IS, HEAVEN, THE THIRD OF THE FOUR LAST THINGS.
ANY one of these considerations, we have here proposed, should suffice to persuade us to the love of virtue. But because the heart of man is so stubborn, that very often all of them together are not able to prevail on it, I will here add another motive, no less powerful than any of the others; that is the happiness and reward promised to a good life, which is, the possession of everlasting glory; wherein two things particularly occur to be taken notice of; one is, the beauty of the place itself, which is heaven; the other, the glory and excellency of the King, who keeps his residence there with all his elect.
As for the first, though no tongue is able to express the beauty of this place, yet we will endeavor to guess at it as well as we can, and to discover as it were, at a distance, some part of it. The first thing then to be . considered is, the end for which God created this excellent frame; for, generally, the best way of knowing the worth of a thing is, to inquire into the design of it. Now the design of this place is to make known God's glory. For though, as Solomon says, " The Lord has made all things for himself" (Prov. xvi. 4), it is plain, nevertheless, that he particularly made this place for this end, because it is here that he manifests the greatness and splendor of his glory in a more than ordinary manner. Therefore, as the great king Ahasuerus (Esther i.), who reigned over an hundred and twenty-seven provinces, made a sumptuous feast in the city of Susa, the metropolis of his empire, which lasted a hundred and four-score days, with all the cost and state imaginable, to let his subjects see how powerful and how rich he was; so this almighty King is pleased to make a noble feast in heaven, not for a hundred and four-score days only, but for all eternity, to show the infinite immensity of his riches, his wisdom, his bounty and his goodness. This is the feast Isaias speaks of, when he. says, " In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto this people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, .of wines on the lees well refined." (Isa. xxv. 6); that is to say, of most rich and delicious things. If God has prepared this banquet to make the greatness of his glory known, we must needs imagine, that since this glory of his is so great, the beauty of the place where he resides is proportionable to it.
We shall better understand this, if we but examine into the power and riches of the Lord who has chosen it for his residence. As to his power, it is so great, that he created the whole world out of nothing with one word, and with one word can destroy it again whensoever he please. Nay, it reaches so far that with one single word he could have created not only one world, but millions of them, and have reduced them to nothing with another. And what is more considerable yet, whatsoever he has made has cost him no pains nor trouble, nor was it harder to him to create the noblest seraphim than it was to create the least insect, because this infinite Power can do whatsoever it has a mind to do, and whatsoever it has a mind to do it does purely of its own will, and is neither tired by the greatest works nor eased by the least. If this Lord is so powerful, if the glory of his holy name is so great, and if he has such a love for his own glory, how beautiful must that place or that banquet consequently be, which he has prepared to show us his glory? What is there wanting towards the perfection of this great work? There can be no want of hands, because the Workman is infinitely powerful; no want of skill, because he is infinitely wise; no want of will, because he is infinitely good; no want of wealth, because he is infinitely rich. If, then, all things be so well disposed to make it great, what must that work be, which is performed by the omnipotence of the Father, by the wisdom of the Son, and by the goodness of the Holy Ghost?—where goodness inclines, wisdom directs, and omnipotence performs all that an infinite goodness desires, and an infinite wisdom prescribes, though all these things are the same in the same divine Persons.