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saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes." (S. Luke xix. 41, 42.) The SAVIOUR considered on one hand the great good that had come, together with His Person, to that people, for all the graces and treasures of Heaven had descended with the LORD of Heaven; and on the other hand, how they, offended at the humble dress and appearance of the LORD, would not receive Him; and how by this sin they would not only lose the riches and grace of His visitation, but would also destroy their country and their city. Filled with sorrow for this, He shed these tears, and spoke these words, so short and incomplete; whose very shortness made them more significant. This same sentiment and these very words may be applied in a manner to the subject on which we are speaking. For, if we consider on one hand the beauty of virtue, and the great riches and graces that accompany her, and see on the other hand how hidden all these things are from the eyes of carnal men, and how she wanders as an outcast on the earth, thinkest thou not that we too have reason to shed tears, and to say with the SAVIOUR, "Oh, if thou hadst known!" That is, Oh, that GOD would open thine eyes this moment to see the treasures, the delights, the riches, the peace, the freedom, the tranquillity, the light, the pleasures, the favours, and all the good things that accompany virtue, how wouldst thou prize it, how wouldst thou desire it, how carefully and laboriously wouldst thou seek it! But all this is hid from carnal eyes, which, looking only on the hard rind of virtue, and not having experienced its inward sweetness, see nothing but what is hard, rough, and gloomy, and account it to be a coin current in the next life, but not in this; believing that if there is any good in it, it is not for this world, but for the other. Wherefore, reasoning according to the flesh, they say that they will not buy hopes with perils, and risk the present for the future.
This they say because they are offended at the outward appearance of virtue; for they understand not that the philosophy of CHRIST is like CHRIST Himself, Who being outwardly a Man, and so lowly a Man, was inwardly GOD, and the LORD of all creation. Hence it is said of the faithful, that they are dead
to the world, and their life is “hid with CHRIST in GOD." (Col. iii. 3.) For, as the life of CHRIST was thus hid, so also is that of those who imitate that life. We read that men used anciently to make images which they called Sileni, which outwardly appeared very coarse and rough, but within were very richly decorated; so that the deformity was public, but the beauty secret; the one deceived the eyes of the ignorant, the other attracted those of the learned. Such assuredly was the life of the Prophets, such was that of the Apostles, and such is that of all perfect Christians, and such also was that of the LORD of them all.
And if thou sayest still that virtue is difficult, and hard to practise, thou shouldst fix thine eyes on the helps that GOD has provided, by the infused virtues, by the gifts of the HOLY GHOST, by the Sacraments of the New Law, and by all the various aids and helps that He gives us to serve as oars and sails to the ship in its navigation, and as wings to the bird in its flight. Consider also the very name and nature of virtue, which is essentially a habit, a most noble habit, and that it is the natural effect of habit to make us work with ease and pleasure. Consider also that the LORD has promised His servants not only the good things of glory, but also those of grace; the former for the next life, but the latter for this, as the Prophet says, "The LORD will give grace and glory," (Ps. lxxxiv. 11, Bible version), providing them as it were with two saddle-bags well filled, the one with stores for the present life, the other for that which is to come. Understand, therefore, from this that there must be more in virtue than outwardly appears. Consider also that the Author of nature never fails in necessary things, but has perfectly provided the creatures with everything that they need; therefore, as there is nothing in the world more necessary or more important than virtue, He will not leave it dependent on a purpose so mutable, an understanding so blind, a will so feeble, an appetite so ill inclined, and a nature altogether so corrupted with sin, without providing it with all the capacities that it needs as oars wherewith to navigate the ocean of this world. For it would not be reasonable that Divine Providence should be so solicitous in furnishing gnats, ants, and
spiders with the capacities and instruments that they need to preserve their life, and should neglect to provide man with what is needful for the attainment of virtue.
I say more. If the devil provides so many pleasures and satisfactions, at least in outward appearance, for his followers in payment of their services, is it possible that GOD can be so grudging towards His faithful friends and servants as to leave them famishing and parched with thirst in the midst of their labours? How ! dost thou think the purity of virtue so cast down, and that of vice so much in the ascendant, that GOD would suffer the one to have such great advantages, and the other such loss and such discouragement? What then means GOD's answer by Malachi the Prophet to the complaints and murmurings of the wicked? He saith, “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth GOD and him that serveth Him not." (Mal. iii. 18.) Here He is not contented with the advantage that the good have in the next life, of which He treats further on, but says of the present time, "Ye shall return and see." Which might be expanded, "I will not have you wait till the next life to know this advantage, but return, and you will immediately understand the difference between the evil and the good; the riches of one, and the poverty of the other; the peace of one, and the strife of the other; the satisfaction of one, and the discontents of the other; the light in which one lives, and the darkness wherein the other walks; and you will see by experience how far greater advantages this side has than you supposed."
GOD gives nearly the same answer by Isaiah to others who in the same delusion and false persuasion mocked at the righteous. First, He declares His great power and glory, as displayed in His dealings with them, showing thereby how far happier they are that serve GOD than they who serve Him not. Next, He declares the heavy chastisements that are laid up for the wicked. And after this He treats of the joy and prosperity of the righteous, saying thus, "Rejoice ye with Jerusalem," that is, with the soul of the righteous, "and be glad with her, all ye that love her rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: that ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations;
that ye may be delighted with the abundance of her glory. For I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream : . . . . ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem," that is, in My House. “And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish as an herb ; and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward His servants." (Isa. lxvi. 5, 10–14.) This means, that as by the greatness of the sky, earth, and sea, and by the beauty of the sun, moon, and stars, men come to know GOD's almightiness and beauty, so will the righteous know the greatness of His power, riches, and goodness by the great gifts and mercies that they will receive from Him, and experience in themselves. So that, as GOD showed His great severity towards the wicked by the plagues and chastisements that He sent on Pharaoh, so He will declare His great love and goodness towards the good by the admirable favours and benefits that He will confer on them. Blessed indeed is that soul that shall be made an example to display GOD'S great goodness, and wretched is that in whose punishment His justice shall be made manifest; for as His goodness and His justice are both inestimably great, what must the streams be that flow from such abundant fountains?
I add yet more, and ask this question : If the way of virtue seems to thee gloomy and barren, what did Divine Wisdom mean by these words: "I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love Me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures?" (Prov. viii. 20, 21.) What are these treasures and this substance but those of this heavenly wisdom, which surpass all worldly wealth, and which are communicated to those who walk in the way of righteousness, which is the same thing as virtue? For if riches more worthy of the name than any other were not found here, how could the Apostle give thanks to GOD for the Corinthians, saying that they were rich with all kinds of spiritual riches? (1 Cor. i. 4, 5,) and observe that he plainly calls them rich, whereas he calls others not absolutely rich, but only "rich in this world.” (1 Tim. vi. 17.)
For the further confirmation of this truth, consider the answer of our LORD to S. Peter, when he asked what should be the reward of those who had forsaken all for His sake. (S. Matt. xix. 27.) It is given by S. Mark in these words, “Verily, I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the Gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, and in the world to come eternal life." (S. Mark x. 29, 30.) These are CHRIST's words, and we must not overpass them lightly. And first, thou canst not deny that He expressly distinguishes here between the recompense that is given to the righteous in this life, and that which they will receive in the next, promising one in the future, and offering the other at once. Nor wilt thou assert that it is possible for this promise to fail, for it is certain that heaven and earth shall pass away rather than one word or one tittle" of His, however impossible it may seem. (S. Luke xxi. 33; S. Matt. v. 18.) For as we believe that GOD is Three and One, because He has said it, although it is a mystery above all reason, so are we obliged to believe this truth, although it is beyond all understanding: for it rests upon the same testimony.
Tell me then, what is the hundredfold more that is given to the righteous in this life? For we do not usually see great estates, or riches, or temporal dignities, or worldly pomps given to them. On the contrary, many of them live neglected and forgotten by the world, in great poverty, affliction, and sickness. How can we reconcile this with the infallible truth of this declaration, but by confessing that GOD provides them with so many and so great spiritual gifts and treasures, as suffice without any of this worldly parade, to give them greater happiness, greater joy, greater contentment, and greater rest than all the possessions in the world? Nor is this very wonderful; for as we read that GOD is not restricted to give sustenance to the bodies of men with bread alone, (S. Matt. iv.), but has many other means of preserving them, so neither is He restricted to give satisfaction and contentment to their souls with these temporal gifts alone, but can do it very well without them and so in truth He has dealt with all the saints, whose prayers, whose exercises, whose tears,