Monday, 13 March 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 224.



Nor are we to wonder at the force of this wisdom, since it is not earthly, but heavenly; which does not puff up, but edify; which does not enlighten the understanding by its speculation, but inflames the will with its heat. Thus wonderfully was St. Augustine touched and moved, that, as is written of him, he never heard the psalms and hymns of the Church sung but he wept. The words, entering in at his ears, sunk down to the very bottom of his heart, whilst the warmth of his devotion spread the truth of them throughout his whole soul. This made him break out into tears, and, according to his own confession, gave him a great deal of joy and comfort. O blessed tears! O divine school! O happy wisdom, that bears such fruit as this I Conf. L. 9, v. 24. Is there any in the world we can compare with this wisdom ? Job says, " It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls, for the price of wisdom is above rubies," etc. Job xxviii. 15, 16, etc. After all these commendations, the holy man concludes: " Behold the fear of the Lord that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding; " ver. 28.

This is one of the greatest rewards that can be offered to excite you to follow virtue. And Solomon makes this proposal to encourage men to a good life: u My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding; " Prov. i. 5, 6. This wisdom does not always continue in the same degree, but receives a daily increase of light and knowledge, as the same wise man has hinted to us " The part of the just," says he, " is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. iv. 18); the day of this blessed eternity, wherein we shall receive the divine inspirations, I will not say, with Job's friends, by stealth, but shall have a full sight and knowledge of God himself; Job iv. 12.

Of this true wisdom the children of light partake,, whilst the wicked, on the contrary, live in such ignorance, that like the Egyptian darkness, they may feel it with their hands. We have a lively figure of the one in the land of Jessen, where the Israelites lived, which always enjoyed the light: and of the other in the land of Egypt (Ex. x. 22, 23), which was quite covered over with darkness, a true emblem of that horrible blindness in which the wicked live, as they themselves acknowledge in Isaias, when they say, " We looked for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, and we have walked in the dark. We have groped for the wall, and like the blind, we have groped as if we had no eyes; we have stumbled at noon-day as in the dark; we are in dark places as dead men;" Isa. lix. 9, 10. What greater blindness than what the wicked fall into every step they take ? What greater blindness than for a man to sell the solid joys of heaven for the vanities of the world? What greater blindness than for a man not to be afraid of hell, not to seek after heaven, not to have a horror for sin, not to think of the last judgment, not to regard the threats or promises which God has made, not to be afraid of death which may every moment surprise him, not to prepare himself for the making up of his accounts, not to see how short and momentary his delights are, whilst the torments that shall follow them are to last forever ? " They will not be learned nor understand," says the royal prophet, " but walk on in darkness " (Ps. lxxxi. 5); from an inward darkness to an outward one, from the darkness of this life to that of the next.

I shall conclude this chapter with a word or two of advice, which is, that, notwithstanding the truth of all I have said upon this matter, a man, how just soever he is, should not on this account withdraw himself from the humble submission he owes to the opinion and counsel of those above him, especially of such as are looked upon as the doctors of the Church. For was ever man more enlightened than St. Paul or Moses, who talked with God face to face ? And yet one of them goes to Jerusalem to confer with the Apostles on the gospel he had learned in the third heaven (Gal. ii. 1, 2); and the other refuses not the advice of Jethro his father-in-law, though a heathen; Ex. xviii. The reason is, because the inward helps of grace exclude the outward assistance of the Church, since the Divine Providence has been pleased to allow them both to supply our weakness, which stands much in need of them. As, therefore, the outward heat of the air maintains the inward natural heat, and as nature, after all its care to procure the health of every particular, is assisted with such medicines as have been created for this end, so is the light and doctrine of the Church a help to the inward lights and assistance of grace, and whosoever refuses with humility to submit to the authority of the one, is to be judged unworthy to receive the favours and helps of the other.