Friday, 17 February 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 217.



Did any man, says Job (ch. ix. 4), ever resist him and prosper?

Nor does their punishment end here. For God not only turns his eyes from the wicked, whence it follows that they fall into such sins and miseries, but does himself produce and send them these afflictions; so that the eyes which watched for their advantage before, are now open to their ruin: as the prophet Amos (ch. ix. 4) testifies, saying, I will set my eyes upon them for evil, and not for good; that is, I, who before looked on them, in order to secure them, will do it now to punish them, according to what their sins deserve. And the prophet Osee (ch. v. 12) tells us plainly, that God says, "I will be like a moth to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Juda."

And because this seemed too easy a punishment, and too lingering, he immediately threatens them with another more speedy and more severe: "I will be like a lioness to Ephraim, and like a lion's whelp to the house of Juda: I, even I, will catch, and go away, and there is none that can rescue;" ver. 14. Can any thing be more terrible than this?

We have as a clear proof of this kind of providence in the prophet Amos, who, after telling us, that God would put all the wicked to the sword, for their sins of covetousness, goes on and says, " They shall flee, and he that shall flee of them shall not be delivered. Though they go down even to hell, thence shall my hand bring them out: and though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down. And though they be hid in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them away from thence: and though they hide themselves from my eyes in the depth of the sea, there will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them. And if they go into captivity before their enemies, there will I command the sword and it shall kill them. And I will set my eyes upon them for evil, and not for good;" Amos ix. 1, 2, 3, 4. These are the words of the prophet. And what man, on reading them, if he but considers, that they were spoken by God himself, and does but observe what kind of providence he exercises against sinners, can without trembling see how powerful an enemy he has against him, and how closely he pursues him, having secured all the avenues, and lying continually in wait to destroy him?

What rest can a man take that reflects on this ? What stomach can he have for his food, who has the eyes of God, red with indignation and fury, fixed on him ?' Who has such a persecutor and such an arm stretched out against him? For if it be so great a misfortune to be deprived of God's favour and providence, what must it be to have armed this same providence against you, and to make him turn that sword on you, which was drawn in your defence? What an unhappiness must it be to have those eyes open to your destruction, which before watched for your security; to have that arm, which was before stretched out to hold you up, extended now to cast you down; to have that heart, which thought of nothing for you once but of peace and love, have no other thoughts for you now but of affliction and sorrow ? What misery is it, that he who ought to shade, shield and protect you, should be changed into a moth to consume you, and into a lion to tear you in pieces ? How can that man sleep securely, who knows that God all the while stands over him, like Jeremy's rod, to punish and torment him ? What means can he use to frustrate the designs of God ? What arm can withstand his arm ? Or what other providence can resist his providence ? Did any man, says Job (ch. ix. 4), ever resist him and prosper?

This evil, in fine, is of such a nature, that the withdrawing of his fatherly providence from sinners is one of the severest punishments he either inflicts on, or threatens them with, in this life, as he himself has declared in several places of the Holy Scripture. In one of which, he says, " My people heard not my voice : and Israel hearkened not to me" (Ps. lxxx. 12, 13); for which reason I will not take any notice of them, as I have done before; " So I let them go according to the desires of their heart: they shall walk in their own inventions." Their condition must, therefore, grow each day worse and worse. He says also, by the prophet Osee (ch. iv. 6), since " thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children." As there is no greater misfortune can befall a woman than to be divorced from her husband, nor a vine than to lie neglected and unpruned, so the greatest loss a soul can undergo is, to have God withdraw his hand from her. For what is a soul without God, but a vine without its pruner, a garden without a gardener, a ship without a pilot, an army without a general, a commonwealth without a ruler, and, in short, a body without life ? See here how God encompasses you on all sides, that the fear at least of being forsaken by him may work on you, though his providential love and concern do not move you; for fear and apprehension often influence those whom favours and benefits can do no good with.