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.
|Frans Francken (II) - Mankind's Eternal Dilemma – The Choice Between Virtue and Vice.|
But if you still find the practice of virtue hard, reflect on the means God has assisted you with to make it easy. Such are the infused graces, with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the sacraments of the new law, and several other divine favours, that serve as oars and sails to a ship, or as wings to a bird. Consider what the very name and being of virtue import, which is essentially a very noble and perfect habit; and, therefore, regularly speaking, ought, like all other habits, to make us act with facility and pleasure. Consider, further, that our Saviour has promised to his elect, not only the goods of glory, but those of grace, the latter for this life, and the former for the life to come. As the royal prophet assures us, saying, " The Lord will give grace and glory" (Ps. lxxxiii. 12), which are like to rich vessels, filled with all kinds of good things, the one for this life, and the other for the next; by which we may see there is something more in virtue than appears at first sight. Consider, again, that since God lets us want nothing that is necessary, having so plentifully provided all creatures with whatever they stand in need of, it is not to be imagined, since nothing can be more necessary or of greater importance to man than virtue, that he would leave us entirely to the disposal of our own free wills, which are so weak and impotent to the blindness, of our understanding, to the inconstancy of our humours, to our own desires, which are so bent on evil, to a nature, in short, so depraved by sin, without strengthening us with infused habits, which are, as it were, oars to help us over all those shelves and sands, that hinder us from making our way through the sea of this life. For it is unreasonable to think that the Divine Providence, which has taken so much care for the fly, the spider and the ant, having supplied them with all things requisite for their subsistence, could have left man, the noblest of all creatures under heaven, without such means as are necessary for his acquiring virtue.
To go further yet, how can God possibly be so sparing to his faithful servants, as to leave them in their necessities, and forsake them in the midst of their sufferings, whilst the world and the devil, by too many different false delights and pleasures, win the hearts of those who serve them ? How can you imagine the practice of virtue to be so mean, and that of vice so noble? Can you persuade yourself that God would ever permit this last so much to surpass the other? What do you think God designed to signify to us by the answer his prophet Malachy made in his name, to the complaints of the wicked? "Return," said he, "and you shall see what difference there is between the righteous man and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves him not;" Mai. iii. 1. This shows that God does not think it enough to propose the advantages of the next life, of which he treats afterwards, to those who return to him; but he says to them, Be converted, and you shall see ; as if he had said, It is not my only design you should wait till the other life to know the advantages you are to reap, but return to me and you shall see, this very moment, what difference there is between the good and the bad, the riches of the one and the poverty of the other; the joy, peace and satisfaction the one enjoys, and the sorrow, restlessness and discontent that follow the other; the light the one walks in, and the darkness that surrounds the other. Thus experience will show you how many advantages, more than you imagined, the followers of virtue have over those that follow vice.