Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 237.

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. 

Christ the King (PolishPomnik Chrystusa Króla[a], lit. Monument of Christ the King) is an Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ in Świebodzin, western Poland

The ancient philosophers were no less acquainted, by the bare light of nature, with the comfort that proceeds from a good conscience, than they were with the disturbances which attended a bad one; as we may see by Cicero, who, in his Tusculan Questions, says thus: "The life which is spent in actions of honor and virtue is accompanied with so much satisfaction and pleasure, that they who pass away their time thus, either never feel any trouble at all, or, if they do, it is very light and insignificant; Tuscus. He repeats almost the same thing in another place, and says, " That virtue can find no theatre, either more public or more honorable, than the testimony of a good conscience ; " Socrates, being asked who could live free from passion, immediately made answer, " A virtuous man." And Bias, another famous philosopher, being asked who, in this world, was free from fears and apprehensions, answered, " A good conscience." Seneca, in one of his Epistles, writes thus: " A wise man is always cheerful, and his cheerfulness comes from a good conscience; " Epist. 23. So that you see how these philosophers were of the same opinion in this matter with Solomon, who says, " All the days of the poor man are evil;" that is to say, tedious and troublesome; "but a secure mind is a perpetual feast;" Prov. xv. 14.

It is impossible for man to say more in a few words: by which we are to understand that, as he who is invited to a feast is pleased with a variety of dishes, and with the company of his friends that are invited, so the just man is delighted with the testimony of a good conscience, and with the sweetness of the divine presence, having such good ground to believe that God is in his soul. But yet there is this difference between these delights, that the pleasure a man has in a feast is but earthly, and transitory ; whereas this other is heavenly, eternal and noble. The one begins with hunger, and ends with distaste and loathing; but the other begins with a virtuous life, is preserved and continued by perseverance, and ends f with eternal honor and glory. Now, if the philosopher, who had no hopes of any reward after his life, had such an esteem for the pleasure which a good conscience gives, at what rate ought a Christian to value it, who knows very well what rewards God has prepared for him in the next life, and with what favors he honors him even in this ? And though this assurance ought not to be quite void of a holy and religious fear, and this is such a fear as does not dismay, but rather strengthens him that has it, after a wonderful manner; because it tells him inwardly, that his confidence is then more secure and profitable, when it is tempered with, and kept in awe by, this wholesome fear, and that, if he had no fear at all, it would no longer be a confidence, but false security and presumption.

You see here another privilege which the virtuous enjoy, and which the Apostle speaks of, when he says, Our glory is the testimony 0f our conscience that we have lived in simplicity of heart, and in true sincerity, not according to the wisdom of the world; 2 Cor. i. 12.

This is almost all that is to be said of the greatness of this privilege; but neither what I have said, nor what I am able to say, can discover its excellence to him that has never had any experience of it; for how can any one explain the deliciousness of a meat to any one who has never tasted it? This joy is, in effect, so great, that often, when a virtuous man is afflicted, and can find no ease which way soever he casts his eyes, yet, if he but reflect on himself, he is immediately comforted with the consideration of the peace and quiet he finds in his own conscience. For he knows, that as for the rest, let it go which way it will, it is no matter to him; this is the only thing he has to look after. And though, as I have said already, he cannot have an evident knowledge of his innocence, nevertheless, as the sun, in a morning, enlightens the world before we see it, by its advance toward us, so the testimony which a good conscience gives a just man, is a comfort to his soul, though this knowledge is not sufficiently clear and evident. This is so true, that St. Chrysostom, speaking of the same thing, says, " Let a man be ever so melancholy, if he have but a good conscience, all his trouble vanishes like a spark of fire that is extinguished when it falls into a great river;" Hom, 10, in ad Corinth, c. 3, and Hon. 54, in Matt. c. 16.