SIX VOLUMES IN ONE BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
§ 1. Of the Peace of Conscience which the Virtuous enjoy. —
Virtuous men are free from this plague, because they are never tormented with the stings of a bad conscience, but, on the contrary, enjoy the comforts they receive from the ! sweet fruits of virtue, which the Holy Ghost has planted in their souls, as in an earthly paradise and a private garden in which he delights. So St. Augustine terms it in his book on Genesis, where he says, "The joy a good conscience gives a virtuous man is a true paradise" (Tom. iii. Lib. 12, de Gen. ad lit. c. 34); and this is the reason why the Church is called a paradise full of all kinds of graces and innocent pleasures for those who live justly, piously and temperately. And the same saint, in his Method of instructing the Ignorant, has these words : "You who seek after that true peace which is promised to Christians after death, assure yourself that it is to be found amongst the bitter troubles and pains of this life, if you will but love him that has made you this promise, and will keep his commandments; for you will soon find, by your own experience, that the fruits of justice are much sweeter than those of iniquity; and you will meet with a much more solid satisfaction from a good conscience, amidst all your afflictions and tribulations, than a bad conscience would ever let you take, though in the very midst of delights and pleasures; " Lib. de Catech. rud. Hitherto the words of the saint, which gives us to understand that this comfort is of the nature of honey, which is not only sweet itself, but makes those things so, though of themselves unsavory, that it is mixed with ; so a good conscience brings so much peace along with it, that it makes the most painful life sweet and easy. And as we have said that the foulness and enormity of sin are of themselves a torment to the wicked, so, on the contrary, the beauty and worth of virtue, without any thing else, are comforts to the good: it is what the holy prophet David expressly teaches us, when he says, "The judgments of the Lord " (that is, his holy commandments) "are true, justified in themselves. They are more to be desired than gold and many precious stones, and are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb;" Ps. xviii. 10, 11. This holy prophet, who had tasted how sweet they were, took no greater pleasure in any thing than in the observance of them, as he tells us himself in another psalm, where he says, "I have taken pleasure in the way of your commandments, as if they had been the greatest riches in the world;" Ps. cxviii. 14. His son Solomon, in his book of Proverbs, is of the same opinion; for he says, "It is a pleasure to a just man to do justice" (Prov. xxi. 15) ; that is, to act virtuously, and to do his duty. Though there are several causes for this joy, yet it proceeds chiefly from the bare splendor and brightness of virtue, which, according to Plato, is most incomparably fair and beautiful. In fine, the advantages and delights which a good conscience brings are such, that St. Ambrose, in his Book of Offices, makes the happiness of the just in this life depend on it; and, therefore, he says, " The brightness of virtue is so great, that the peace of conscience and the assurance of our own innocence are enough to make our lives pleasant and happy ; " St. Amb. L. ii. de Off. c. 1.