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.
THE third privilege of virtue is a particular light and wisdom God grants the just, which, like all the rest, comes from that grace we have spoken of. For as it is [the business of grace to cure nature, and to heal the infirmities occasioned by sin in the appetite and will, so it enlightens the understanding, which was no less obscured by sin; to the end that man, through the one, may know his duty, and by the help of the other may put it in execution. It is on this account St. Gregory says, in his Morals, " That as man's not knowing his duty is a punishment for his sins, so is his not being able to perform it when he does know it L. 25, c. 9. For the same reason the psalmist so often repeats, The Lord is my light against ignorance; The Lord is my salvation against the want of power. By the one we are taught what we are to desire, and we are enabled by the other to bring our desires about; but they both depend on grace. And, therefore, besides the habits of faith and of infused wisdom, which instruct us in what we are to believe, and what we are to do, there are added, the gifts of the Holy Ghost; whereof four belong to the understanding; which are, that of wisdom, to give us the knowledge of the sublimest things; that of knowledge, for those things that are lower ; that of understanding, to dive into the divine mysteries, and see how beautiful they are, and how consonant to one another; and that of counsel, to direct us how to conduct ourselves amidst the difficulties so frequent to be met with in this life.
All these rays of the divine light are reflected on us by grace, which, in the Holy Scripture is called an unction or anointing: " And this anointing," says St. John, " instructeth you in all things;" i John ii. 20. For as oil, above all other liquid things, is good both for the nourishing of light and for the curing of wounds, so this divine unction performs both, curing the wounds of our will, and enlightening the darkness of our understanding. This is the oil more precious than any balsam, which David gloried in, when he said, " Thou, O Lord, hast anointed my head with oil;" Ps. xxii. 5. It is plain he speaks not here of a corporeal head, or of material oil, but of a spiritual head, which is the noblest part of our souls; and, according to Didymus, on this text, the seat of the understanding, and of the spiritual oil, which is the light of the Holy Ghost, that feeds this lamp and keeps it in. This holy king was sensible of the light this oil gave, as he himself confesses in these words: " The uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast manifested to me;" Ps. 1. 6.
Another reason is, that since it is grace makes a man virtuous, and since it cannot do this without disposing him to a sorrow for his past life, to a horror of sin, to a love of God, to a desire of heavenly things, and to a contempt of the earthly, the will can never be excited to such affections unless the understanding receive a sufficient light and knowledge to produce them. For the will is a blind faculty, altogether unfit to act, unless the understanding go before, and inform it what is good or bad, that so it may, accordingly, fix or withdraw its affection. St. Thomas, to this purpose, says, " That the knowledge of God's goodness and beauty increases in the souls of the just proportionally to the love they have for him. So that, if the one advance a hundred degrees, the other will advance as many; because he that loves much must know a great many qualities in the thing he loves which make it deserve his love; and so on the contrary;" S. Th. 2, 2, qu. 2, ar. 4. What we say of the love of God is also to be understood of fear, of hope, and of the horror of sin, which he can never have above all things, if he does not know that it is so great an evil 1 as to deserve such hatred. For as the Holy Ghost requires all these affections to be in the soul of a just man, he expects there should be cause to occasion and produce them; even as when he designed to work different effects on the earth, he appointed there should be different causes and influences in the heavens.