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.
God entertains those, who enter anew into his house, with a deal of kindness and love; he bears all their charges at first, and makes every thing seem light and easy; he deals with them as traders do with their customers, who give samples of their wares gratis, but will have their full price for what they sell. The affection we show little children is usually more tender, though perhaps not greater, than what we show those who are of riper years. We carry those up and down in our arms, but let these go by themselves; and whilst these are laboring and toiling, we lay those to sleep, and let them take their rest; without giving them the trouble of asking for their meat, we feed them ourselves, and put their victuals into their mouths.
It is this kind reception new beginners find with God, and the manifest favors he shows them, which occasions that spiritual joy and comfort the royal prophet speaks of: " The young plant shall flourish with thy dops; " Ps. lxiv. 11. Now, what is this plant, and what these drops, but the dew of the divine grace with which God waters these spiritual young plants, which he has lately dug up from amongst the wild brambles of the world, and set in his own garden? These are the plants which the prophet means, when he says, " They shall rejoice in drops; " Ibid. This shows how great the joy of such persons is at their first receiving this new visit. Nor are you to think that, because these favors are called but drops, they have no more in them than their name seems to promise: "For (as St. Augustine says) he that drinks of the river of paradise, one drop of which is more than all the ocean, is sure, though he drink but one single drop, it will quench his thirst forever."
If, when you think of God. you are sensible of these comforts, it is no argument against what has been said. For if the palate, when it is out of taste by any bad humor, cannot distinguish what is bitter from what is sweet, but judges what is sweet to be bitter; what wonder is it if your soul, corrupted with so many vices and irregular affections, and which longs so earnestly after the flesh-pots and onions of Egypt, should not relish the manna of heaven and the bread of angels? Wash your mouth first clean with tears of penance, and then you will be able "to taste and see how sweet the Lord is;" Ps. xxxiii. 9.
What I have said being so undeniably true, is there any pleasure in the world to compare with these? Holy writers tell us there are two sorts of happiness; the one, a happiness that is but begun; the other, complete and perfect; the latter the blessed above enjoy, and just men here on earth the former. What, therefore, can you desire better than from this very moment to begin to be happy, and even in this life, to receive the pledges of that divine marriage, which is to be solemnized in heaven, though it be proposed here but at a distance ? O mortal man I whosoever you are, since it is in your own power to live in paradise, and to enjoy such treasure, go and sell your all, to purchase so great an estate for so small a sum. It is Jesus Christ will sell it, and he will let you have it, in a manner for nothing. Do not defer the opportunity any-longer, for every moment lost is of more concern than all the riches of the world. And though you may perhaps meet with an occasion of purchasing it hereafter, assure yourself yet the time you shall have lost will be a trouble to you, and will force you to cry out with tears, as did St. Augustine, "O ancient goodness! it is too late I have known thee;" Solil. c. 31. The lateness of this glorious saint's conversion, though he failed not of his crown, was the perpetual subject of his complaints and tears. Have a care, therefore, lest it should be your misfortune to deplore the loss of both, if you should be deprived of the benefits of glory, the inheritance of the saints in the next life, and of those of grace, the reward of the just in this.