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.
OF THE SEVENTH PRIVILEGE OF VIRTUE, VIZ., THE TRUE LIBERTY WHICH THE VIRTUOUS ENJOY, AND OF THE MISERABLE AND UNACCOUNTABLE SLAVERY THE WICKED LIVE IN.
FROM all the above-mentioned privileges, but particularly from the second and fourth, which are the grace of the Holy Ghost, and the divine consolation, there arises another extraordinary one, which virtuous men enjoy, and is the true liberty of the soul; it is what the Son of God brought into the world with him; and it is on this account that he is called the Redeemer of mankind, for having delivered it out of that real and miserable bondage it had so long lived under, and having set it in perfect liberty. This is one of the greatest favours our Saviour has bestowed on us, one of the most remarkable advantages of the Gospel, and one of the chief effects of the Holy Ghost. " For," as the Apostle says, "wheresoever the spirit of the Lord resides, there liberty is to be found;" i Cor. iii. 17. It is, in fine, one of the noblest rewards God promises those who serve him in this life. And it was this our Saviour himself promises to some persons who had a mind to begin to enter into his service, when he said to them, " If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free;" that is to say, shall give you a true liberty. To which they answered: "We are the seed of Abraham, and we have never been slaves to any man ; how sayest thou, You shall be free ? Jesus answered them, Amen, amen, I say unto you, that whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. Now the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the son abideth for ever. If, therefore, the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed;" John viii. 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36.
Our Saviour by these words gives us plainly to understand, that there are two sorts of liberty; the one false, which, though it looks like liberty, is not so; the other true, which is what it appears to be. As for the false one, it belongs to those persons who, though their bodies are free, have put their souls under the arbitrary government of every passion; like Alexander the Great, who, after having made himself master of the whole world, was a slave to his own vices. But the true liberty is enjoyed by them alone, whose souls are free from the yoke of such tyrants, though their bodies may sometimes perhaps be prisoners, and sometimes at large, as was St. Paul's, who, notwithstanding his imprisonment, soared up to heaven in spirit, and by his preaching and doctrine set the whole world free.
The reason why we with so much freedom call this liberty, and not the other, is, because, since of those two principal parts which compose a man, to wit, the body and soul, the soul is beyond all comparison the most noble, and, as it were, man's all; whereas the body is nothing but the matter and subject, or the case the soul is shut up in; it necessarily follows, that he who has the best part of him at liberty, may be said to be truly free, whilst he whose better part is under confinement, enjoys hut a false liberty, though he has the free disposal of his body, and may carry it where he pleases.