Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 221.

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. 


Moreover, since, as we have said before, grace makes God dwell in the soul of a just man, and God, according to St. John (i. 9), " is a light enlightening every man that cometh into this world," it is certain, the purer and cleaner he finds this habitation, the rays of his divine light will shine the brighter on it; as a glass, the clearer it is, the brighter and the stronger it reflects the sun. St. Augustine, therefore, calls God " the wisdom of a purified soul" (Lib. 2, de Lib. Arbit.), for enlightening the soul, which is in such a state, with the rays of his light, and instructing it in what is necessary to its salvation. And what wonder that God should do this for man, since it is, in some manner, what he does for other creatures ? For they, by a certain natural instinct, know all those things that are necessary for the preservation of their being. Who has taught the sheep, among so many different plants, to avoid those which are hurtful to them, and to browse on those which are not? From whom has it learned what creature is its enemy, and what its friend; and by this means to run from the wolf, and to follow the mastiff? Is it not from God? Now, if God thus instructs the brutes, for the preserving of their natural life, how much more reason have we to think he will enlighten the just with such a knowledge as shall be necessary to the maintaining of their spiritual life, considering that man stands in no less need of those things that axe above his nature, than brutes do of such as are suitable to theirs? And if the divine providence has been so careful in providing what regards nature only, how much more solicitous will it be in furnishing us with such things as regard grace, which are infinitely more excellent, but, at the same time, far above the reach and power of man!

This example teaches us, not only that there is such a knowledge, but what a kind of knowledge it is, which consists not so much in the speculation as in the practise; since it is given us more for the direction of our actions than for the improvement of our understanding, and is rather to instruct us how to perform all we do virtuously than how to discourse learnedly. For this reason, it stops not at the understanding, as that knowledge we acquire in the schools does, but communicates itself to the will, and makes it ready in the performance of whatever this knowledge inclines it to. This is the property of the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, who, like an accomplished master, perfectly instructs those under his care, in all that is requisite for them to know. And, therefore, the Spouse, in the Canticles (ch. v. 6), says, "My soul melted away when my "beloved spake." Thus we may see what difference there is between this and human learning. For, whereas the one does nothing else but increase the understanding, the other, moreover, governs and excites the will, and, by its virtue, searches unto all the recesses of our souls, doing all that is necessary for the reformation of each in particular. Whereon the apostle says, "The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb. iv. 12); because it separates the sensual part of man from the spiritual, cutting asunder those unhappy knots which generally tie the flesh and the spirit together, when the spirit, closely contracting with the wicked flesh, becomes one with it. It is the force and efficacy of the word of God that breaks this knot, and makes man follow, not the dictates of the flesh, but of the spirit.