Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 253.


But he who enjoys this favour acknowledges and praises the author of these wonders, crying out with the prophet, " Come and see the works of the Lord, and the miracles he has wrought upon the earth, making war cease to the very remotest parts of the earth. He has snapped the bow and broken the arms, and thrown the shield in the fire, saying, " Throw down your arms, and live in peace and quiet, that so you may know, that I am the Lord, and will be exalted in heaven and in earth;" Ps. xlv. 9, 10,11. This being so, what can there be in the world more rich, more delightful, and more desirable, than this rest, this repose, this effusion and extension of heart, and this most happy peace ?

But if you will go a little further, and would know from what cause this heavenly gift proceeds, I answer, it proceeds from all those other privileges and advantages of virtue we have before mentioned; for as, in the chain of vice, the links are all one within another, so in the ladder of virtue they have all a dependence on, and connection with, one another, in such a manner, that the highest, as it produces most fruit, so it has most roots to spring from. And thus this happy peace, which is one of the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost, takes its rise from those other privileges we have before spoken of, but particularly from virtue itself, whose inseparable companion it is. For as an outward reverence is naturally due to virtue, so is an inward tranquillity, being at the same time its effect and its reward. For since inward war, according to what we have already said, is begun by the pride and disturbance of the passions ; as soon as ever they are weakened by those virtues, whose duty it is to subdue them, the very occasions of these tumults and seditions are removed. And this is one of the three things, by means whereof we partake of the happiness of the kingdom of heaven, even here on earth. The Apostle, speaking of them, says, " The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;" (Rom. xiv, 17); where, by justice, according to the Hebrew way of speaking, is to be understood the very same virtue we are talking of; in which, together with these two admirable fruits, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, consists the felicity which virtuous men enjoy, by anticipation, in this life. And to prove that this peace is an effect of virtue, the Almighty himself says expressly, by Isaias, " Peace shall be the work of justice and silence, and everlasting security the fruit of it; my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence, and in a plentiful rest; " Isa. xxxii. 17, 18. What he calls here silence, is nothing else but this same inward peace; that is, the repose of the passions, which disturb the silence of the soul, by the perpetual clamours of their irregular lusts.

The second cause this peace proceeds from is, the liberty of the soul, and the dominion it has over the passions above spoken of. For just as when any country is brought under a foreign subjection, as soon as ever the inhabitants surrender themselves, there is a general peace immediately, and every one sits under his own fig-tree and under his own vine, without any fear of the enemy; so after the passions of the soul, which are the causes of all its disquiets, are subjected to reason, there immediately follows in the soul an inward silence and peace, which makes it live free from all disturbances imaginable. So that man being now free from their tyranny, and, what is more, keeping them in subjection to him, there is nothing left to disturb the peace he enjoys, though, on the contrary, whilst the passions had the rule and power, every thing was tossed up and down, and the whole man in general confusion and disorder.

The third cause of this peace is the greatness of these spiritual consolations, that lull asleep all the affections of our appetites, which, during that time, are content with what the superior part of the soul is pleased to give them, because the concupiscible appetite, after having tasted how sovereignly sweet and delightful God is, makes him the object of all its wishes, and the irascible is quiet, because its companion is satisfied ; and the whole man enjoys an entire peace and happiness, on account of his tasting the sovereign good.

In the fourth place, this peace proceeds from the testimony and inward joy of a good conscience, which makes the soul of a just man easy and quiet, though it does not give him any perfect assurance, for fear of making him negligent, and putting him in danger of losing that holy fear which puts him forward.

Lastly, this peace proceeds from the confidence just men have in Almighty God. It is this particularly, that gives them the greatest joy and comfort imaginable, even amidst the miseries of this life, because it is the very anchor they trust to, that is to say, because they assure themselves, that they have God for their Father, their Deliverer, their Defender, and their Shield, under whose protection they live in peace and happiness, and have all the reason that can be to sing with the prophet, " I will lay me down and sleep in peace, because thou, O Lord, hast secured me in a particular manner, by the hope which I have in thy mercy Ps. iv. It is from this hope, that the peace of the just springs, and in this they find a remedy for all their evils. How then can any man be troubled, who has so powerful a protector as his God?