In the last Conference we considered the Spirit's special operations in the Catholic Church as an Organic Body. To-night let us pass to His operations in the baptized man. In this Conference and the next we shall watch the structure of the spiritual life in the soul, as under the special operations of the Spirit, it slowly goes up from virtues and gifts unto fruits, works and beatitudes. But to-night it will only be possible to show the foundations of that spiritual life which the Holy Ghost lays in the soul; reserving the process under which the superstructure goes up for the closing Conference next Wednesday evening. Let us begin, then, with the adult before he is baptized.
I. It is unnecessary to define again the prevenient and cooperative graces of the Spirit. Suffice it to say, the soul can do nothing whatever without the help of God. Its very first movement, therefore, toward the truth and salvation is preceded, and helped, by a secret springing up within of Divine grace, which comes from the loving Spirit, the Lord and the Life-giver. If the man cooperate with this prevenient grace, the Holy Ghost continues to work with and help him in all those illuminations, growing Convictions, and drawings, that precede Baptism.
One may ask, at this point, why is it that Baptism and the Eucharist are necessary to the spiritual life? That is to say, why may not the Holy Ghost alone complete the man's illumination and sanctification? Why do we need within us, be sides the action of the Holy Ghost, the continuous action also of the Son? The Son, it may be and is said, died for us eighteen hundred years ago; He ever intercedes for us in Heaven; what more do we need than that the Spirit should simply quicken our memories of that past tragedy, and our faith in Christ as our Mediator and Interceder in Heaven? This objection of Protestant ism to Catholicity deserves an answer. It is to be remembered, then, that the condition of human nature after the Fall was, in one respect, very different from its condition before the Fall, and it is that very respect that is vital to the point. For before the Fall, human nature had come fresh from the Creator's hand. It presented, therefore, n obstacle whatever within itself to the action upon it of supernatural influences. But sin introduce into it the seeds of death; and reared within it an obstruction to supernatural influences. Our fallen nature needs, therefore, the gift of a pure humanity to enter into it and penetrate to it very springs. As the evil comes to us by the communication of the imperfect nature of the First Adam, so it must be cured by the communication to us of the Perfect Nature of the Second Adam. We must be, that is to say, as actually reborn from Christ in body and soul, as we are literally born from Adam. We must have Christ's Nature as truly as we have Adam's. As the creation of the race was begun in Adam, and continued on earth, so its recreation was begun on earth in Christ and must be continued on earth. Thus, we need the Son's Human Nature working within us in addition to the Spirit's influences. Indeed, says St. Augustine, "Christ hath so promised to send the Holy Ghost, as Himself also to be with us forever." Thus the Holy Ghost is in the saints, not instead of Christ, but together with Him. And herein lies one of the broad distinctions between the Catholic and the Protest ant presentments of Christianity. Indeed, the Divine Spirit requires, so to speak, Christ's sacred and pure Human Nature, as an instrument with which to work out the cure of our fallen human nature; "Verily I say unto you ye must be born again." How? said Nicodemus; "Of water and the Holy Ghost," was Christ's answer; in allusion beforehand to the coming Catholic Church and God's operations in Its Baptism. It is in Baptism that He grafts each of us, therefore, into that pure Human Nature of Christ, making us, by recreation, as really and substantially one with the Second Adam, as we are by creation one with the First Adam; and it is by the Eucharist that He avails, with our cooperation, to impart Christ's Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity more and more to us. And as Christ's pure Human Nature penetrates ours more and more deeply and thoroughly, so does our fallen human nature open its doors, so to speak more and more to the enlightening and sanctifying influences of the Spirit. Thus it is that the Son and the Spirit mutually aid one an other in the work of our gradual illumination and sanctification as individuals.
It is into the living Tree, Christ, then, that the Holy Spirit is to graft the man by Baptism. It is Almighty God only that can do this; for no man can recreate himself, any more than in the first instance he could have created himself. And Holy Baptism is at once God's appointed means and instrument to this end; and also His signal to man of the place where, and the time when it pleases Him to perform this great work of recreation. But, "as sap will not flow from the healthiest tree into a branch which is dead and incapable of receiving it," so if there be death in the soul of the adult, that is to say, actual sin not repented of, the Divine life will not flow into the soul, even though the man be grafted into Christ. But if (as in the case of infants) there be no actual sin, or if in the case of an adult, there be repentance for his actual sins, then the way is open and the new life enters. There must, then, at least be in the man prior to Baptism, first, not indeed supernatural faith, but what we may call the beginnings and preparations for infused faith; secondly, a sorrow for his past sins; and thirdly, a determination to amend. And these three stirrings of life are effected, we repeat, by those general prevenient and cooperative graces of the Spirit, which were never withdrawn from the race, but which enlighten "every man that cometh into the world."
Thus, the function of the general operations of the Holy Ghost is to draw the man into the realm of the Church; where not only the Human Nature of our Lord is in full play, but also the special and stronger influences of the Holy Spirit Who fills that Human Nature. Those general operations give to the man an initial or imperfect faith, an initial or imperfect hope, and an initial or imperfect charity.
Baptism is the gateway at which the man receives the very first of the Spirit's special operations, and through which he is ushered in among all the others.
II. Our next question, then, is, what is the special operation of the Spirit on the man at Baptism? In order to see what it is, we must consider what the man, as he is by nature and birth, needs at the Spirit's hands. Surely he needs at least what he lost at the Fall. And what was that? To discover it, let us see what human nature is made up of, and what the effect of the Fall was upon its elements. The soul of man is made up of three great elements, viz., the intellect, the will, and the affections. At the Fall, each of these three received a grievous wound. The wound of the intellect was ignorance; the wound of the will was weakness; and the affections were so disordered, that they play on unworthy objects.
Not that fallen man was left utterly without any power, under the assistance of the Holy Ghost, to recognize objects of faith; not that he was, left utterly without power to yearn for spiritual things; not that he was left utterly without that charity whereby all human suffering and need make their appeal to his heart. We are not by the Fall totally depraved; but the three elements were mortally wounded; we are left "very far gone from original righteousness;" so far gone, indeed, that we have lost justification; so far gone, that our nature cannot of itself recover, but needs new gifts to it in order to its restoration; so far gone, that with our three great mortal wounds, unless Christ and the Holy Ghost intervene, we shall become at last "as the Devil and his angels."
It is precisely these three wounds severally in the intellect, the will, and the affections, then, that are slowly to be healed. The healing cannot come by nature; it must be supernatural. And the healing cannot be instantaneous; it only proceeds gradually, and under the cooperation of the man himself. Death overtakes every one of us, even the most saintly, long before the cure is completed. The process of cure must go on, then, hereafter, in some way unknown to us, until He that is ever taking away the sins of the world, hath at last taken them all away, and the soul, nay, the whole man, in the Resurrection, is ready for the Beatific Vision. For as death is only by sin, we cannot say that sin is entirely done away until its consequence, death, is forever ended by the final resurrection. Hence follows the reasonableness as well as the charity and the duty of those prayers for the dead which the Catholic Church has ever used in Her liturgies, and which are in our Litany, Burial Office and Holy Communion service; in which, in our ignorance as to what our beloved departed may require, we ask God to grant them whatsoever they may need. prior to the resurrection, to fit them for the eternal heavens.
At Baptism, then, the cure is only begun; if, indeed, we may not more strictly say, it is begun at the very first entrance into the soul of the prevenient grace before Baptism.
At Baptism, through the uniting power of the Holy Spirit (for in God and in all creation, He is the great Uniter), Christ's perfect Humanity embraces the human being with the arms of Its mercy, takes our poor wounded nature into union with Itself, and "sanctifies us with the Holy Ghost." When the Holy Spirit, thus supernaturally given, takes possession of us, His special grace penetrates the three wounded elements of our nature. In the wounded intellect, it takes the form of faith; in the wounded will, the form of hope; and in the wounded affections, the form of charity; accordingly as we pray in the Baptismal Office, that the candidate "may be endued with the heavenly (or three theological) virtues;" and furthermore, accordingly as we pray, that he may be steadfast in the use of his newly given faculty of supernatural faith, joyful through the use of his new and supernatural power of hope, and rooted in his new and supernatural faculty of charity. "Thus." says St. Cyril, "is Christ formed in us by the Holy Ghost."
Such, then, are the three foundation stones for the structure of the spiritual and Sacramental life, which the Divine Spirit lays in us at Holy Baptism.
It was these three powers of faith, hope, and charity, that, at the Fall, were mortally wounded, and left for dying in the intellect, the will, and the affections, each in each. It is these three that the Holy Ghost supernaturally restores to the soul at Baptism.
And here let me draw a distinction between the recreation of the individual and his rebirth. It is true the creation of man took place in Adam; and the recreation of man took place in Christ, the Second Adam.
But, as there is a sense in which God is a perpetual Creator, summoning, by conception, each individual into being in the womb, so there is a sense in which God is a perpetual Recreator. Viewed under this light, then, the recreation of each individual, and his rebirth, are analogous to his creation in the womb and his birth. In the realm of the natural man, then, creation may be considered as the giving to the human being of an existence in the womb. It precedes birth by a considerable time. Then, birth is the subsequent ushering of that being into the realm of the world, containing all the influences that are calculated to develop its germinal powers. Analogously, in the spiritual realm, recreation is the grafting of the human being into the nature of the slew Adam, Jesus Christ. If any man be in Christ, says St. Paul, he is a new creature--a new creation; and, furthermore, it is the imparting to him from that Nature at Baptism, first, the three powers of supernatural faith, hope, and charity; secondly, the seven gifts of the Spirit, and thirdly, sanctifying grace, in order to the production of the fruits and the works. Rebirth is the ushering of the being, thus recreated, into the realm of the Church, into God's Kingdom of Heaven; where are all the supernatural influences that are divinely designed to develop His newly given supernatural powers. But while in the natural realm, creation precedes birth by a considerable time, in the realm of grace, recreation and rebirth take place at Baptism simultaneously; for to be "made a member of Christ" is both to be recreated from Him, and also to be ushered by rebirth into His kingdom the Church and among Its means of grace.
As, then, at conception we receive an intellect (wounded, alas, by the Fall) with which, nevertheless its wound, we may still think and reason about natural things, so at recreation do we receive the power, the organ, so to speak, of faith; by the exercise of which we are enabled to recognize spiritual truth and objects, to believe, and to hold fast to them. God does not give to the newly born child the world and its objects of thought, without giving to it an intellect with which to deal with those objects of thought; and, in the same way, God does not exteriorly give us the supernatural truth through His Church, without also giving us, interiorly, the power of Faith to accept it. As, too, at conception we receive the power of will, with which, notwithstanding its wound at the Fall, we may resolve naturally, and pursue objects of natural desire, so at re-creation do we receive the faculty and power of Hope; in the exercise of which we can form spiritual resolves, and pursue those spiritual objects of desire which our new power of Faith has recognized. And as, at conception, we received wounded affections, by which we are prone to pursue and attach ourselves to wrong objects, so, at re-creation, do we receive a faculty of super natural Charity, by the exercise of which we may love God and creatures aright.
Thus are Faith, Hope, and Charity, the three elements forming, together with the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the fabric, if we may so speak, and structure of the spiritual man within. The three Virtues (we cannot speak of the Gifts now) are lights and graces, with which the Holy Spirit helps the soul; they are, in the germinal forms in which they are received at Baptism, the beginnings of the Sacramental life. Thus, too, it will be perceived, the supernatural or Sacramental life "is built into the foundation of the natural life," in each baptized man; the supernatural not intended to destroy the natural, but to perfect it.
Rationalism proceeds on the supposition that the old wounded nature is all sufficient for us, needing only cultivation; and that nothing super natural is required. But Christianity declares that the wounds are in themselves mortal; that we are by nature in a dying state spiritually; even though we be temporarily held back from those full and normal effects of sin which appear in the fallen angels--held back temporarily and with an opportunity to recover, since we did not sin of ourselves, as did the angels, but because we were urged to sin by them;--and that we need, there fore, for our restoration from the evils wrought by sin and the Fall, the gift of a new nature; the in fusion, that is to say, from God of something additional to that nature with which we were, as a race, left after the Fall; that, in short, we need to have restored to us, for our justification, precisely what we lost. Thus, while at birth a man comes into the world wounded in intellect, will, and affections, at re-creation he is indeed a new being; for at Baptism each of the above elements of human nature, the intellect, the will, and the affections, receives a corresponding mate, and becomes as it were compound. Since the baptized man is no longer possessed of the power of intellect only, but of the compound faculty of natural intellect and supernatural Faith; and no longer of will only, but of the compound faculty of natural will and supernatural Hope; and no longer of affections only, but of the compound faculty of natural affections and supernatural Charity. In short, he is equipped within to be a being competent, not only to deal with the natural world, but with both the natural and the spiritual worlds; with the truths and facts of both; and to perceive the harmony between both sets of truths and facts.
And the above is true whatever view of the fall one may take. It is expressed in terms of an historic Fall of man. But it is easily translatable into terms of that view, which under modern theories of ethnology, will doubtless soon be suggested by some body or other, that the Fall, namely, though a fact, is not an historic fact, but that it is to be spoken of logically rather than chronologically; that is to say, that man was, from the first, in a state of being fallen far below the Divine idea of humanity in its best estate as presented in the Second Adam. My purpose is not to discuss the Fall, but to meet here by anticipation all possible objections which modern thought may present, and to show that, whatever startling theory it may suggest, the old Catholic truth with regard to the Sacramental infusion of a higher nature will remain just as true as ever, and still be the profoundest philosophy of man as a fact.
III. But it is to be borne in mind that each of these new faculties, or, if we may so express it, spiritual organs of Faith, Hope, and Charity, are not given at Baptism in their full development; they are given in mere germ form only. In this respect our re-creation is the analogue of our creation. For, at conception and birth our intellect and all our natural faculties are mere germs. If we could conceive of such a thing as the infant, after birth, not corresponding in any way with the natural earthly influences around him, he would surely, though he lived to three score and ten, remain in a pitiable infantile and imbecile state. So also, if, with our spiritual man within received at Baptism in its Virtues and Gifts, we do not correspond with the spiritual influences in the Church, divinely designed to develop the new germs, if we do not correspond, i. e., with Its instruction, encouragement, movings to repentance and amendment, Sacraments, warnings, Creed, and other objects of Faith, prayer, counsels, meditation, sacramentals, spiritual reading, objects of Hope, retreats, missions, and so on, though we live till three score and ten, our spiritual powers--our power, for instance, of Faith, will remain with in us like the undeveloped brain of an idiot, a mere imbecile germ. And though a man be a Voltaire, a Stuart Mill, or a Spencer, he will continue supernaturally and spiritually an idiot. There are, alas, spiritual idiots and imbeciles, as well as intellectual. He will be a monstrosity; awake on one side of his being, and dormant and undeveloped on the other; however able in science or literature, yet blind, deaf, and incompetent in the august presence of the great spiritual verities of existence. With his mighty Intellect and his infantile Faith, he will be but a half-man trying to deal with a whole and double realm, a realm which is both natural and supernatural. And what can we expect of him, but that he shall awkwardly flounder when he is out of his own element, the natural, namely, and attempts to deal with the spiritual? There is no real conflict between the spiritual and the natural realms; this foolish, artificial, utterly unnecessary conflict between the two realms has been brought about by those theologians on the one hand, who remain asleep to the calm, the mighty and valuable investigations of the scientist, and by those scientists on the other who remain asleep to God's eternal laws and facts in the august spiritual realm.
But to return; we see from the above how reasonable is the great Catholic fact of Infant Baptism. For, according to God's plan, the germs of the new nature should clearly be planted in the human being among the germs of the old nature at as early a moment after birth as possible; and the human being should be reborn into the Church and Its spiritual influences as shortly as possible after its birth into the world. For the earthly influences of the world will surely begin at once their developing play upon the natural germs within the infant; the spiritual influences of the Church should, therefore, also have full opportunity to close at once around the supernatural germs within. It were cruelty to leave the infant fully exposed to the one set of influences, and deny him, or stint him in the use of, the other set; or to insist that he must wait till adulthood before he can become a full member of Christ's spiritual and supernatural Kingdom. By right of Creation, he has a right of Re-creation also. And Baptism is indeed "the charitable work" due from us to every helpless infant.
IV. Having seen, then, first, how the Spirit prepares the man for His special influences in and after Baptism; secondly, what, in part, the elements of the new nature are which the Spirit imparts at Baptism; and thirdly, that these three elements are given in germ form only; we come, fourthly, to the question, Does God vouchsafe to the man each of these three powers of Faith, Hope, and Charity in equal measure; as much Faith, that is to say, as Hope, and as much Hope as Charity; and, furthermore, is each baptized man an equal recipient of them with all others?
St. Augustine, as I showed you in the last Conference, argues that the gift of Baptism is, in one sense, the same, because it is Christ Who baptizes all; that is to say, that that Baptism is not higher which is administered by a saintly Priest than one which has been administered by an unworthy Priest. But on the other hand he says, in his Sixth Homily on St. John, "Under stand, brethren, the very saints who belong to the Dove, of whom the Apostle says, 'The Lord knoweth them that are His,' these have received different degrees of grace from God."
Indeed, the Divine Being loves variety. In nature the curved line is to be seen everywhere in infinitely diverse expressions. And even if we do detect the straight line in rare exception, in the crystal for instance, yet God never makes two crystals alike. It is the finite human mind that produces everywhere the straight line. It is the line of rest, of finity and of death. It is the curve that is the line of life, of beauty, and of infinity. It is man, that, like another and an inferior creator, has, with his great powers produced the phenomenon of sameness. But God triumphs in a vast realm of diversity. Infinite in number are the forms of beauty that flutter and play momentarily around him. The billow swells, blooms, and sinks, without ever a twin before or after on the whole surface of the ancient ocean. The leaf on the elm-tree flickers in the sunlight, and no leaf exactly like it hath come before on all the elms, in all the valleys, on all the earth. But it is man's black and soulless monster, Machinery, that stamps out its products, its nails, its gold coins, its envelopes, its pins, in a tedious and unrefreshing sameness. It is man that runs his spiritless streets and township lines at precise right angles with each other. But in the groves of God every opening is a new beauty, every way windeth, and hath a mystery at its end. The mountain ranges, the streams, the shores, in their meandering flow, scorn to follow the stiff lines of latitude and longitude.
Now what God has adopted in the realm of creation, that same His wisdom has sanctioned in the realm of re-creation. Variety, variety everywhere. As in the realm of creation, the Intellect, the Will, and the Affections are so differently combined by God, that no two men are alike in character, so in the realm of grace, Faith, Hope, and Charity as powers, together with the Seven Gifts of the Spirit, are so differently combined, that no two baptized men start alike in Sacramental organism. For, saith St. Paul of the Spirit, He divideth His gifts to every man severally as He will." Furthermore, as differing combinations of earthly influences operate upon the natural man from infancy on, and form an added cause of still further variety in human character, so also do differing spiritual influences, and the various degrees with which the baptized correspond with them, add to the infinite variations in Christian character. Besides all this, still further Divine cause for variations arises from the fact that the spiritual life, which, as an original gift, is not the same in any two men, is itself built into the originally differing foundations of the natural life, and necessarily takes somewhat of character from the peculiarities of the special natural life into which it is built. For the race of man is unevenly fallen, some men lower and nearer to the brutes than others.
If (as was the case with St. Thomas Aquinas), a man in whom there was originally the germ of a mighty intellect, receives at Baptism the germ of a mighty power of Faith also, that man be. comes a vastly more powerful theologian than he would have been, if his large power of Faith had been granted to a mediocre intellect only. Thus, as there are poets but no two poets alike; so there are saints, but no saint was ever just like any other saint. And likewise when we come down to the case of the ordinary Christian; each of the Faithful stands out as a separate individual in his religious as well as in his natural character. And this is the reason why every master of the spiritual life exercises the greatest caution not to set up a standard of perfection for one penitent, which may properly belong only to another. Furthermore, as in nature there are great types of men, the Turanian, the Semitic, and the Aryan, so doth the Holy Spirit produce corresponding classes, the oriental and the western for instance, in the moral and religious life. Still again, as we have our Newtons, our Miltons, and our Washingtons in the realm of nature, so also in the realm of grace do we have our hero-martyrs, and our great exemplifiers of the different theologies, the dogmatic, the mystical, the moral, and the ascetic, which none others of the Baptized, however worthy they may be of acceptance through the Cross, may yet ever hope to equal.
For, "there is one glory of the sun, and an other glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead." And, "there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." The opal is nevertheless a precious gem though it be not a diamond. And when the Holy Ghost, with His Divine Colaborer, the Son, shall have finished His restoring work on the fallen human race, then in eternity shall there play around the Throne of God, in the innumerable saved (as there plays here in time), a varied and marvellous brilliancy, "in that day when I make up my jewels, and they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts."
V. Still a fifth question confronts us here, or rather a double question. It is this. Is the power of Faith intended to paralyze our intellect, or to be a substitute for it in dealing with the objects proper to reason? And as for the power of Charity, is it intended by the Holy Ghost to interfere with, or take the place of our natural affections
Never was there a greater mistake than to suppose that, according to Catholic theology, Faith is in any sense the foe of reason. It is its ally, its friend. If I may use a homely figure: I can do much with a dry sponge; but I can do vastly more if that sponge be saturated with water. I can do much with intellect; but I can do more, in the whole realm of existence, if intellect is inter penetrated with Faith. The power of Faith gives to the man a wider range of vision ·than unaided intellect can reach. It gives a range including objects out of the cognizance of reason alone. And, as all things, seen and unseen, spiritual and natural, have a relationship to each other, and together form a one harmonious whole, the power of Faith, reaching to unseen things and truths beyond those which are the objects of intellect, often saves the reason from forming partial and erroneous judgments even in matters proper to its own realm. Far from either necessarily destroying the other, Faith does best with the help of intellect, and intellect does best with the help of Faith. Intellect without Faith issues in infidelity Faith without intellect tends to superstition.
In short, the Reason, cut off by sin from God Who is the source of light, became darkened in its spiritual visions. Nevertheless, it is still a tolerable guide to man in matters within its range; in matters of the earth, in science, politics, commerce, art, agriculture, and fine art. But its horizon is bounded by the limits of nature. Its arm is shortened within that horizon. There is a whole realm of orderly facts, and laws supernatural beyond its reach. The natural "eye hath not seen," the natural "ear hath not heard, neither have entered into the heart of" the natural "man, the things which God bath prepared," even here in time, "for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit," . . . and, "we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are now freely given us of God. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, be cause they are [not intellectually but] spiritually discerned." Thus, to apply the unaided intellect, the unregenerated reason, to spiritual facts and laws, were like striving to hear with the eye or to see with the ear. Hence the melancholy spectacle which Tyndall presented, when he challenged Christians to the prayer-test in some hospital. Were not the subject so solemn, I might say ludicrously violating by some of the very terms of his challenge one of the eternal spiritual laws under which only any prayer can be answered; and so by his unintelligence putting it out of the power of any intelligent Christian to accept the challenge. However, Tyndall was annihilated in the premises by his more than match, Dr. Littledale, in the Contemporary Review.
If the Intellect gives us tolerable command over the things and laws of earth and time, the Intellect, when interpenetrated by Faith, brings us into relationship with the things and laws both of the natural and of the spiritual realms. The stand-point of unaided reason is, as it were, at the base of a mountain; but it is the summit of the mountain that is the stand-point of reason when it is interpenetrated by Faith.
Thus God never intended, by His good gift of Faith to destroy in us His good gift of Reason. Each hath its realm of objects to deal with, and to which as a machine it is adjusted. Faith leaves Reason in full vigor; it aids Reason, and summons Reason to its own aid. It removes not Reason from Reason's proper objects. It lifts it to a wider horizon and extends its play. It brings within the vision new and modifying facts. It saves Reason from many errors. It completes it where it was wanting. In short, the Holy Ghost, by His gift to us of the power of Faith, perfects the Reason, raising it from the disaster of the Fall.
And again, as to Charity. How many an earnest man has troubled himself by supposing he must substitute Supernatural Charity for His natural affections, destroying the latter.
One cannot, of course, say, that, in the Counsels of Perfection there have not been rare cases, where souls have had the vocation to crucify their natural affections entirely, in order that God may be all in all to them, and that supernatural Charity for man may alone be left in their hearts. But of these, may we not say that they are very, very rare cases of vocation, even among the Religious themselves, and are confined to the very loftiest degree of sainthood? Indeed, indeed, it seems very daring to presume to make even this exception. For, when we think how He, Who illustrated the life of the Religious, loved the be loved disciple, and loves to-day Her whom He commended from the Cross to every John, to every loved disciple of His, ought we not to draw back from admitting any exception? With these rare exceptions then, if we are at all correct in making even them, the natural affections, though they of course need directing aright, and often need chastening, are not to be paralyzed.
There is no question, I suppose, but that the great law to guide the supernatural Charity is this, viz.: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
The first part of this law gives no one any uneasiness. All recognize that it is reasonable and practicable. But it is the last part of the law that seems fraught with the utmost difficulty. It seems to involve a crucifixion of the natural sympathies and antipathies; to demand either the toning down of all our loves to one dead level, or the raising of our love for those in whom we have no interest to the lofty level of that love which we bear to those who are dearest to us. How is it possible, a man may say, for me to love my neighbor as I do myself. I am sympathetic with some persons, but just as antipathetic with others. I cannot alter my tastes and character, and those who are congenitally disagreeable to me cannot alter theirs. I can possibly love my wife, my children, my parents, as I do myself. I can love my very dear friends; I cannot exactly say that I love them as I do myself; but I love them at any rate very warmly. I can love, with a certain penumbra of love, my cousins and some of my wife's relatives. I can manage the case of some of my mere acquaintances. To be frank, I am distinctly conscious of weakening, when I reach that out circle. But as for all beyond that circle, I utterly despair. Here is a man, for instance, whom I never saw before, and probably never shall see again. We have no interest in common. Pray tell me, what do I, or can I care for him? It is impossible for me to say that I love that man as I do myself. And then, what am I to do when I go still further off, to the case of the Laplander and the Chinaman. I certainly do not love the Chinaman as I do myself.
Furthermore, I am to love all these people with a certain degree of intensity. Now, my love for myself is exceedingly strong. I fear I love myself more than it is possible for me to love anyone else, however dear. If a man is to have his foot amputated, I certainly would rather it would be he than myself. If a man is to lose his fortune, or his means of livelihood, and plunge into abject poverty, I certainly would rather have such a disaster happen to him and his family than to me and my family.
But one thing is to be noted. When the Holy Ghost gives us in Baptism the power of Charity, He surely does not ask of us, in its development, any impossibility. Nothing is asked that would violate nature, or would suppose the sponging out from our characters of those fair varieties, which the Spirit Himself with the Father and the Son has stamped upon them severally. The love that is spoken of in this law cannot be that by which we are drawn together through conformity of tastes, similarity of character, or natural gifts. The latter kind of love is, in the comparison, a love of low degree, founded on natural inclination. But the love spoken of here is supernatural. It is the love of the neighbor in God.
There is another teaching of the Holy Ghost, which clears up the difficulty. We are taught that "He that loveth his neighbor, fulfilleth the law." The second part of the law of Charity, then, refers to the Commandments on the second table of the Law. We pass, then, to that second table for an explanation.
In that table, Almighty God has summed up, classified, and gathered back all trespass against the neighbor, under four heads, namely: trespass against his person, against his chastity, against his property, and against his good name. If, then, this love, that is spoken of, be not the love of lower degree founded on natural inclination, but if it be a supernatural love, we can gather it back under four corresponding heads. How, then, under these heads, do we love ourself? For in such manner are we to love our neighbor.
First. Every man so loves himself, that he would escape, at all hazards, the mutilation of his person, and all personal injury. Every man flees death instinctively. So are we to love our neighbor also. We must so love him as in no way to injure his person. His life is to be precious to us. "Thou shalt do no murder." Nay, even the well-being of his person is to be our care; to clothe him, if naked; to feed him, if he be hungry; to see that he have shelter; to care for him, if sick. And all this thousands are doing, fulfilling a fourth part of the precept, even though they do not realize that they are meeting its requirements. The good Samaritan exemplified the love of Charity. All along the mystic highway of time and space, that goes up from the Jericho of this world to the Jerusalem of the next, near melodious streams, in the silence of green valleys, in the storm of Alpine summits, on the crowded streets of cities, in far mediaeval time, and to-day, the hospice, the monastery, the school, the asylum, have arisen out of the hearts of those who have loved their neighbor as themselves. And many is the man who will hear, with surprise, the words, "Forasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of my disciples ye have done it unto me."
Secondly. We all so love ourselves, that we feel hurt if we be injured in our property. We guard and protect with jealous care what is ours. And here is another respect in which we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. What is his, is as precious to him, as what is yours to you. Trespass not against him in his person trespass not against him in his property; and so love the neighbor as you do yourself.
Thirdly. Your good name is very precious to you. You so love yourself that you are wounded and hurt in a very tender part of your nature if you are slandered. Love, then, your neighbor in this respect as you do yourself. His good name is as dear to him as is yours to you.
Fourthly. Your cleanness of heart, without which you cannot see God, should be precious to you. Touch not your neighbor, then, for harm, in either of the four respects, in which God sums up and gathers back one's love for one's self, and in which the possibilities of not loving one's neighbor as one's self are exhausted.
Thus this precept of Charity, instead of being fraught with the utmost difficulty, is altogether reasonable, and, under the grace of God, quite practicable. But, alas, how almost universally is it violated in one respect or another. The gossip of small towns is only a revelation of what all cities would present on a gigantic scale, if Satan, in some of his manoeuvres, did not defeat himself in others.
As, then, the Baptismal grace of Faith was not intended to destroy, or to be in any way the foe of intellect, but rather to make up what was wanting in the Reason and to perfect it, so, equally, the Baptismal grace of Charity was not intended to be the foe of our natural affections but rather to make up what was left wanting in them by the Fall, and to perfect them.
As Intellect is distinct from Faith, so the love of natural affection is one kind of love, and the love of supernatural Charity is another kind of love. And we are not expected to love all men, with those beautiful natural affections which, in God's plan, bind us closely to wife, child, parent, and friend, but with the supernatural love of Charity.
VI. It is, then, by planting within us at Baptism, the spiritual lights or powers of Faith, Hope, and Charity, that the Divine Spirit begins His great work of illumination and of sanctification in each soul; of illumination, by all three of these graces, as, under the action of the Seven Gifts, they develop, but especially by that of Faith, by which He perfects the Intellect;--of sanctification by all three, but especially by those of Hope and Charity, by which He perfects the Will and the Affections.
First, then, His work of Illumination in the individual soul. It will be remembered that one of the Holy Ghost's special works is fully to illuminate the Catholic Church; in order that It may be the source on earth, and teacher of all spiritual truth. But it is clear that, as the Holy Ghost presents His truth through the Church, each private soul, that is to receive that truth and so be illuminated itself must have a power within to accept, to love, to comprehend, to hold fast, to apply practically the truth and the law which the Divine Spirit imparts through the Church. The Holy Ghost, therefore, not only thus, by means of the Church, moves with the truth towards the soul, but, by His supernatural gift to the soul of the power of Faith, He moves also the soul to wards the Truth, enabling the man fully and unreservedly to assent to and to love all that Al mighty God proposes through the Church for his acceptance. And thus is the work of Illumination carried on in the private soul.
But the full work of the Holy Ghost includes sanctification also. This He accomplishes through all the mean of grace, especially those that are Sacramental. For what are the Sacraments but the ministrations of the Spirit? By all the means or channels of grace He enfolds the whole spiritual life on earth from its opening at Baptism to its close at death.
In self examination, He quickens within us the sense of sin. By His aid in meditation, and, if we have the gift, in contemplation, our love is deepened, our penitence is enlarged, our resolutions of amendment are strengthened. He inspires us, too, with the spirit of prayer. Through Confirmation, He increases the Faith, fortifies the will, quickens the Hope, and develops still further the Seven Gifts. And, when we have communicated Sacramentally, as the Great Uniter, He worketh interiorly within us, making us more and more one with Christ, and transforming us into That we have received. St. Augustine says, that "Remission of sins, though it be the work of the whole Trinity, is yet understood specially to belong to the Holy Spirit." "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," says the Church, echoing the word of Her Lord, to Her candidate for the Priesthood; and immediately adds, "whosesoever sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven." It is, then, by the power of the Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier, that the Precious Blood of Jesus is applied in Absolution to the cleansing of the private soul from its sins. It is through the Sacrament of Orders, that the Holy Ghost sets apart those who shall be His instruments in teaching, in rebuking, in exhorting and encouraging the needy soul, in urging it to repentance, in leading it through the holy ways of prayer, meditation, the retreat and the mission, and in directing it through all the means of sanctification; the Holy Ghost Himself, mean time, "preventing the Soul, that it may have a good will" in all, "and working with it when it has that good will;" "helping our infirmities," and, since "we know not what we should pray for as we ought," Himself "making intercessions for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." St. Basil calls the Spirit The Perfecter of the works of God not indeed that the works of The Father and The Son are incomplete or faulty but it would seem that "The Father and the Son, through the Holy Ghost, accomplish some portion of Their common will." Thus The Holy Ghost, is not only the Comforter, but also the Finisher. When, then, prayer, repentance, the Sacraments, the sacramentals, and all the means of grace, have been doing their sanctifying work upon the man through a long life, and he lies down at last upon that couch from which he is never to arise, then does the Spirit, the Finisher, gently draw near (as though He yearned in His love to do all that is left to perfect His work ere that soul shall depart), and, in the Sacrament of Unction, if he doth not raise the man to bodily health again, at least anoints with the oil of God's pardon all the tender and painful scars of absolved and healed sin, defends from the final attacks of Satan, and calms with His comfort the departing ransomed one.
Thus, when a person is made a member of the Body of Christ, he receives personal graces of in estimable value yet, as Bishop Moberly remarks, in his "Administration of the Holy Spirit," each man needs for his perfection "to come, in many ways, under the operation of the collective graces which dwell in the Church as such, beyond and above the personal ones which dwell in himself.
For the Body of Christ is more than all the members together. . . . It possesses gifts which are not merely the united gifts of the aggregated members, but gifts of the Body as such."
Finally, every regenerated soul, if it be not in mortal sin, lives by union with Christ, is inhabited by the Holy Ghost, and bears the Fruits of the Spirit.