Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 171.



If any man, though of ever so mean a condition, were to be executed for some public crime he had committed, there is nobody could, without some kind of concern, especially if he had known him before, consider the deplorable state his misery had reduced him to, and the unhappy end he was going to make. Now if it be surprising to see a man of but an ordinary condition brought to such disgrace, how ought we to be astonished, when we see the Lord of all created things in no better circumstances? What a subject of wonder should it be, to see a God like a malefactor? and if it be true, that the greater the quality a person is of, the more we are surprised at his disgrace and fall, what surprise should here seize us? O you blessed angels, who had so full a knowledge of the greatness of this Lord, what did you think, when you saw him hanging upon a cross? God commanded Moses to put two cherubims at the sides of the ark, with their faces turned towards the mercy-seat, and looking upon one another with admiration (Exod. xxv. 18); and for what other end was all this, but to give us to understand with what a holy astonishment those supreme spirits must be seized, when they considered the effect of so great a charity, and beheld this great God, who created heaven and earth, nailed to the holy cross, to atone for our crimes ? Nature herself is amazed, and every creature is astonished. The principalities and powers of heaven are ravished with this inestimable goodness, which they behold in God. Is there any body, after all this, that is not swallowed up in the abyss of such wonders? Who is there, that is not drowned in the ocean of such infinite mercies ? Who is there that can contain his admiration, so as not to cry out with Moses, when God showed him the figure of this mystery upon the mount, "O the Lord, the God, merciful and gracious, patient and of much compassion, and true," Exod. xxxiv. 6. He was unable to do any thing else, but publish aloud the infinite goodness God had given him a sight of. Who would not, like Elias (3 Kings xix. 13), hide his eyes, if he saw his God passing by, not in the brightness of his majesty, but under the veil of his littleness; not overturning mountains, or splitting the rocks in pieces by his omnipotence, but delivered up into the hand of the wicked, and making the very rocks melt and burst asunder with compassion ? Who is there that will not shut the eyes of his understanding and open the bosom of his will, that at the sight of so boundless a love, it may be inflamed with gratitude, and return all the love it is able to give, without setting any limits or measure to its passion? O height of charity! O greatness of mercy! O abyss of incomprehensible goodness!

It is true, O Lord, that I am thus indebted to thee for having redeemed me; how great must the obligation be, for having redeemed me in such a manner ? For to redeem me thou hast suffered such torments, and such disgrace, as are above the reach of our imagination. Thou hast made thyself the scorn of men, and the contempt of the world, for the love of me. To procure me honor, thou hast dishonored thyself; and hast suffered thyself to be accused, that I might be acquitted. Thou hast shed thy blood, to wash away the stains of my guilt. Thou hast died, to raise me to life, and by thy tears hast delivered me from everlasting weeping and gnashing of teeth. How truly dost thou deserve the name of a kind Father, since thou hast had so tender a love for thy children ? How justly art thou called a good Shepherd, who hast given thyself for the nourishment of thy flock? How truly faithful a guardian art thou, since thou hast so freely laid down thy life for those whom thou hast taken into thy care ? What present shall I make thee, answerable to this? With what tears shall I return these tears? With what life shall I repay this life ? What proportion is there between the life of a man and the life of his God, between the tears of a creature and those of his Creator ?

But if, O man, thou shouldest perhaps imagine, that his suffering for everybody else, as well as for thee, has lessened thy obligation, thou deceivest thyself. For though he suffered for all mankind in general, it was in such a manner, that he suffered for each particular person. For his infinite wisdom gave him as clear and distinct a representation of all those for whom he underwent those torments, as if there had been but one single person ; and his immense charity, which made him take in all together, has done no less for each one in particular. So that he has shed his blood for every single man, as much as for all mankind together; and so great has been his mercy, that had there been but one sinner in the whole world, he would have suffered as much for him alone, as he has done now for all the world. Consider, therefore, how infinitely thou art obliged to this Lord, who has done so much for thee, and who would have done a great deal more, if there had been any need of it for procuring thy happiness.