Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 193.



§ I. Something of this glory may be further discovered by the situation and height of the place designed for it, which is not only the most capacious, but the noblest and most beautiful of all the rest. It is called in the Scripture, " the land of the living." Whence we are to infer, that the land we now live in is the land of the dying. If therefore, it is certain, there are so many excellent and curious things in this country of the dying, what must there be where those persons reside who are to live for ever? Look about, in in every quarter of the world, and consider how many beautiful objects there are in it. Observe the greatness of the heavens, the brightness of the sun, moon and stars, the beauteousness of the earth and of the trees, of birds, and other creatures. Consider how pleasant the plain and open fields are: how delightful the mountains, with their unevenness; the valleys, with their greenness; and how the springs and rivers, which are dispersed and scattered, like so many veins throughout the whole body of the earth, contribute with their freshness to its beauty. Reflect on the vast extent of the seas, which have such a great variety of wonders in them. What are the lakes and pools of pure water, but, as it were, the eyes of the earth, or the mirrors of the heavens ? Or what can we think of the verdant meadows, interwoven with roses and other flowers, but that they resemble the firmament all bespangled with stars in a clear night ? What shall we say of the mines of gold and silver, and other rich metals, of rubies, emeralds, diamonds and other precious stones, which seem to stand in competition with the stars themselves, for a glittering lustre and beauty? What shall we say of that variety of colors which is to be seen in birds, in beasts, in flowers, and in an infinite number of other wonderful objects? Besides all this, art has added to the perfections of nature, and so improved the beauty of all things. Hence come those works, which are so pleasing to the eye, glittering with gold and precious stones, noble paintings, delightful gardens, royal garments, stately structures adorned with gold and marble, and innumerable things of other sorts. If, then, there are so many, and such delights in this, which is the lowest of all the elements, and the land of the dying, what must there be, in that sublime place, which as far exceeds all the other heavens and elements, in riches, honor, beauty, and all kinds of perfections, as it does in height! If we consider how much those beauties of the heavens, which are visible to our eyes, as the sun, moon and stars, surpass those of this lower world in brightness, in form, and in duration, how glorious must we imagine those of the next world to be, which are only to be seen with immortal eyes! All we are able to conceive or think will come infinitely short of them.

We know man must have three different places of habitation, answering to the three different states of life. His first place of habitation is his mother's womb after his conception; his second is the world he lives in after his birth; his third is heaven, where he is placed after his death, if he has lived a good life. These three several places bear some sort of proportion to one another, so that the third has, in an infinite degree, all those advantages over the second, which the second has over the first, as well in duration, greatness and beauty, as in all other qualities whatsoever. As to the duration it is visible, for the length of life, in the first place, is nine months; in the second, it sometimes extends to a hundred years; but in the third, it lasts for eternity. The same is to be said of the largeness of the first place, which has no greater extent than that of a woman's womb; the second is no narrower than the whole world itself; and as for the greatness of the third, the best rule we have, whereby to judge of it is, the wide disproportion which is between the first and the second place: nor does it less excel those other places in beauty,'riches, and all other perfections and accomplishments, most proper to recommend it to us, than it does in extent and duration. If, therefore, this world of ours be so great and glorious as we have represented it, and if notwithstanding, the other we have been speaking of, be as far above it as we said it is, how charming must its beauty be, and how vast and spacious its extent! 

This we may discover by the great difference there is between the inhabitants of both places, because the stateliness of a building should hold a proportion with the quality of the person that is to live in it. We are to consider, that the place we live in is the land of the dying, the other of the living; the one is the habitation of sinners, the other of saints; the one is the dwelling place of men, the other of angels; the one is a place for penitents, the other for those who are justified ; the one is the field of battle, the other the city of triumph. In the one, to conclude, there are enemies as well as friends; whilst there are none but friends in the other, and those are no other but the elect themselves. The same difference, that is between the inhabitants of these two places, is between the places themselves. For God has created all places suitable to the quality of the persons they are designed for. " Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God;" Ps. lxxxvi. Thou art unmeasurable in thy extent, and most stately in thy structure. The matter which thou art made of is most precious, the people that live in thee are most noble: all thy employments are delightful, all sorts of goods abound in thee, nor is there any kind of misery whatsoever, which thou art not entirely secure from. Thou art very great in every thing, because he who made thee is very great, because the end which he designed thee for is very noble, and because those citizens, for whose sake he had created thee, are the most honorable of all mankind.