Continuation of the Special Work of the Spirit in the Baptized Individual.
"Faith, Hope, and Love," says Archer Butler, "which are the organs of religion, are the instruments which," moved by the Holy Ghost, gradually unite the heart to the spiritual world and its Lord, separate it from earth, predispose it for heaven, win the will to God's service, and train it for the fellowship and the heritage of the Saints."
But the Holy Ghost, besides moving the baptized man in the exercise of his supernatural organs of Faith, Hope, and Charity, grants him important aid also by bestowing upon those organs seven Gifts, or faculties, or capacities to act.
As in the natural life the Creator not only bestows upon the individual the three natural organs of Intellect, Will, and Affections, but also bestows upon each of these organs various natural gifts or capacities to act, whereby one man becomes a poet, another a soldier, another a logician, another a mathematician, or another a philosopher, or a musician, so, analogously in the spiritual life, does the Holy Ghost grant spiritual Gifts or capacities to act, to the Faith, to the Hope, and to the Charity, whereby we may exercise those virtues in special directions with joy, ease, and more or less of perfection; promptly obedient to the Divine Spirit's motions. These gifts are seven in number, viz.: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Strength, Godliness, and Fear.
Each of these seven spiritual Gifts is not only a supernatural faculty in a given direction, but it is also a love within us for the exercise of either our Faith, our Hope, or our Charity, in that given direction. It is through the seven Gifts, therefore, that the Holy Ghost elicits acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity, in different modes. As, there fore, the Intellect, the Will, and the Affections are perfected by the action of the organs of Faith, Hope, and Charity, so "all the seven Gifts," says the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas, "are ordained for the final perfecting of the three organs of Faith, Hope, and Charity."
Still, when we have the inner man thus constructed out of, first, the natural elements of Intellect, Will, and Affections, secondly, out of the supernatural elements or organs of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and, thirdly, with the seven Gifts to complete the marvellous machine, it will, like a windmill without wind, or an engine without steam, stand stock-still as a structure, unless it be moved by the Holy Ghost. "That which is moved must," as St. Thomas says, "be in contact with that which moves it.' It is, therefore, by a "fourth something," namely, by what is called His Sanctifying Grace, that the Holy Ghost brings Him self into contact with a soul that is without mortal sin, and moves its whole natural and supernatural structure. This Sanctifying Grace, entering the man, finds, first, the easily moved Gifts, and starts them into action and then, through the reaction of the Gifts upon the three Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and the combined reaction of all these, namely, of both the Gifts and the Virtues, upon the natural Intellect, Will, and Affections, a man gradually overcomes his seven deadly sins, bears the twelve Fruits of the Spirit, per forms the Seven Corporal and the Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy, and attains to the Eight Beatitudes.
The seven Gifts of the Spirit, then, are not something which we acquire. They are infused into us by the Holy Ghost as supernatural endowments. But having been thus received, they can each be cultivated and developed by use (for we, being free moral agents, must correspond with the Sanctifying Grace we receive), or they can be injured by abuse and neglect, or, finally, paralyzed by mortal sin.
While, then, the Holy Ghost, by His Sanctifying Grace operating upon the Seven Gifts, elicits acts from the three Virtues or organs within us of Faith, Hope, and Charity, there is a subjective sense in which it may be said that these three organs put forth their several Gifts, or capacities, into use. Thus, while the three Theological Virtues are supernatural exercises of the soul toward something to be believed, to be loved, or to be done, the Seven Gifts, seated as they are in the three Virtues, are defined to be, "certain helps or habitual dispositions infused into the soul by the Holy Ghost, whereby the re-created man is rendered facile and promptly obedient to the Divine motions."
Thus, to sum up and give the difference between a Virtue and a Gift: a Gift is an endowment of the organ of Faith, the organ of Hope, or the organ of Charity, to dispose them to follow the moving influences of the Holy Ghost. Under stand, then, that the three virtues or organs of Faith, Hope, and Charity, are seated in the Intellect, the Will, and the Affections, each in each; and that the Seven Gifts are seated in the three Virtues. The sanctifying Grace, which is the Holy Ghost's influence by which He moves us spiritually, in going forth from the Spirit to operate upon us, finds within us, first, the Seven Gifts or habitual dispositions; moves these; and by them starts the three Virtues within us into action, and, thus, illuminates and sanctifies our natural powers of Intellect, Will, and Affections, in which the Virtues are seated, and among which they are interlocked like wheels in a watch. Thus, a Theological Virtue is a power or organ within a Gift is an infused predisposition in that power to act easily in one of the given directions in which that power moves.
Now it is to be understood, that a man, at Baptism, receives not only the three Virtues, as was shown in the last Conference, but also the Seven Gifts. This the Fathers and their immediate successors, the Doctors, seem to teach. And, furthermore, that he receives them all in germ form only. He is ushered into the Church, also, at Baptism, that Her Divine means of grace may develop, if we will correspond with those means, not only the Virtues but also the Gifts.
But though every man in Baptism receives each and every one of the Gifts, the Gifts are not combined in the same way in any two men. Some of them will be large in one man, others large in another man; while still another man will possess none of them in any very eminent degree. Hence some men become great doctors of one or other of the Theologies, Dogmatic, Moral, Mystical or Ascetic, according to their Gifts; while others become illustrious as writers of devotional offices or as Martyrs and Confessors. The vast majority of Christians, however, do not excel in any special department. But all Christians possess each and every one of the Seven Gifts sufficiently if they will cultivate them, either to appreciate and profit by the teachings, or the devotional exercises, which the others have produced, or to exercise the same Gifts in a more ordinary degree themselves. It was through the Gift of Ghostly Strength, that St. Ignatius of Antioch became famous, going to the lions in the Colosseum; and yet all have this Gift sufficiently, if they will correspond with it, to overcome ordinary temptation. It was through the Gift of Understanding, that Saints Athanasius and Thomas Aquinas became famous; and yet all have this Gift sufficiently to understand the Catholic truth when it is analyzed and de1 for them by the masters. It was through the Gifts of Knowledge and Counsel that Scupoli became the guide of myriads of souls long after he was dead. "Who is your Spiritual Director?" said one to St. Francis Sales; the Saint took "The Spiritual Combat" from his pocket, and, holding it up, replied "Scupoli." And it was through the Gifts of Wisdom, Counsel, Godliness, and Ghostly Strength, that St. Francis Sales himself became illustrious.
St. Thomas Aquinas is exceedingly rich in his treatment of the Gifts and of their bearings upon the Virtues on the one hand, and upon the Fruits on the other. And as, wherever he differs from earlier writers, his arguments seem unanswerable, I shall take him as my teacher and guide as to what the Gifts and their functions are, though not, of course, as to the way in which I shall endeavor to make the subject clear to you.
Four of these Seven Gifts are gifts with which the Spirit endows our combined powers of Faith and Intellect; perfecting their action in four several directions. The other three are Gifts with which the Spirit endows our combined Will and Hope; perfecting them in three several directions, viz.: the direction of strength, the direction of tenderness, and the direction of intensity. By these same three Gifts he also perfects our combined Affections and Charity; and in the same three directions of strength, tenderness, and intensity.
Let us take up, then, first our Faith. The four Gifts, with which the Holy Ghost endows our organ of Faith, are Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, and Counsel. Now our faculty of Faith operates in two ways, viz.: speculatively and practically. By its speculative action Faith grasps God's Truth and Law abstractly; and it is rendered facile in this operation of seeing what is to be believed in accordance with God's Truth and Law, by the two Gifts of Wisdom and Understanding (together with the Gift of Knowledge). But we not only want to know what is to be believed; we also want to see what is to be done. By its practical action Faith sees what is to be done in accordance with God's Truth and Law; and it is rendered facile in this operation by the two Gifts of Knowledge and Counsel.
Let us take up, then, first under this head, the speculative action of Faith, in its two Gifts of Understanding and Wisdom. How do these two Gifts differ from each other?
I. First, what precisely is the spiritual Gift of Understanding? It is, in simplest language, a power which enables a man's Faith to penetrate into supernatural truth. Let me ask you, then, whenever the Gift of Understanding is mentioned, to let it at once suggest to you the idea of a convex lens. If you will only connect the two words, "Understanding" and "lens" together in your mind you will never hereafter, in all your life, be troubled by forgetfulness as to precisely what the Gift of spiritual Understanding is.
For how does a lens assist the eye? it be the lens of a telescope, as you gaze through it at some faint nebula in the heavens, lo, the mere pale brush of light on the ceiling of night opens out to your vision into its multitudinous separate stars. If it be the lens of a microscope, that which would be invisible to the naked eye, or that which, if visible, would appear only as a minute black speck, opens out, under the penetrative action of the lens, into some marvellous infusorial creature, with all its organs displayed of motion and vision, and even, in some cases of digestion. The Gift of Understanding is to the Faith, what the lens is to the eye. By this Gift the Faith is enabled to penetrate into the interior of the dogmatic truth which is presented by the Church for our credence; to open it out into its parts, and discern the relationship of the parts to each other, and the harmony between them. By this Gift applied by the Fathers of the Church to this whole subject, for instance, of the three Virtues, the seven Gifts, and the twelve Fruits of the Spirit, a Virtue is seen to stand out distinct from a Gift, and a Gift to stand out distinct from a Fruit, and a Fruit distinct from a Good Work; the bearings of each on the other are discerned; and one Gift is discovered to be very distinct from another. It is the Gift of Under standing that has developed the Apostle's Creed into the fuller form of the Nicene Creed; and that again into the still fuller form of the Athanasian; and that again into all the truths of Systematic Theology. Have not the natural sciences, under the vision of man's intellectual gifts, opened out into their divisions and subdivisions? And is God the God of order in nature and a God of vagueness and confusion in the supernatural realm? Is it strange that order and precision and law should be perceived in the supernatural as well as in the natural works of God? It is under the Gift of Understanding also that each Sacrament stands displayed in all its parts--the Sacrament of Baptism, for instance, separating into its inward part and its outward part; its outward part then dividing into its "form "and its "matter; "and the inward part developing into its re-creation and its regeneration; and the re-creation separating into its parts, namely, the infusion of the Virtues and of the Gifts. St. Thomas says that "Understanding pertains to an interior penetration into those truths that are proposed to Faith, and to an intelligent holding of them." St. Gregory Great gives a like definition, and contrasts it with dulness which cannot thus penetrate. It is, in short, an analytic faculty given to the Faith.
Let us take a further illustration. God endows the Natural Intellect with the mathematical faculty or gift. Now, when this faculty is large in a man, he is not only able to see into the intricacies of an arithmetical problem, and to discover the relationship which each element in the problem has to the others, but it is, furthermore, a pleasure to him to exercise himself in the solution of the problem. So, too, it is a pleasure to a man with the poetical gift to produce a poem. Analogously is it with the spiritual Gift of Under standing. It is a love for dogmatic truth as well as a power to discern it. And as one can cultivate his mathematical gift, or his gift for languages, so by use can he cultivate his spiritual Gift of Understanding; or, on the other hand, he can injure it either by neglect, or by abuse. How by abuse? If we apply any machine to a purpose for which it was not designed, we put it out of order. Now, when God gives us interiorly, the faculty of Faith with its Gift of Understanding, He gives us also, exteriorly, through the Church, the dogmatic truth which our Faith and Under standing are to see, penetrate, love, and hold. And our Faith and Understanding are so adjusted to the truth He presents to us, that we cultivate our Faith and Understanding if we apply them to that truth, and we misuse, mal-adjust, and abuse them if guided by pride of intellect, we apply them to love and to hold heresy or false doctrine. Hence it is that one of the vows of Baptism is, that we shall hold all the Articles of the Christian Faith. It is this Gift of Understanding, enabling one, where it has been given in large measure, to see clearly and to define for others the truths of theology, that has given to the Church Her great doctors of Dogmatic Theology.
II. Next let us take the Gift of Wisdom. It also helps the Faith in its speculative action. How does it differ from Understanding? We find the root of the word Wisdom in the verb "to wit," that is to say "to know." Now, God is the only Being Who knows things as they really are; and that only is true knowledge, which sees and judges of and knows things not as they seem to us, but as they really are in their essence. Thus Wisdom is the correct or Divine judgment of things.
Again, the Latin word for wisdom is sapientia; which means a taste. By the sense of taste we judge of the qualities of things. As, therefore, I have asked you to connect the idea of a penetrating lens with the Gift of Understanding, so now do I ask you to connect with the Gift of Wisdom the phrase "the sense of taste." Thus, while the Gift of Understanding penetrates and analyzes, the Gift of Wisdom detects the qualities of what has been penetrated, in order to reject or accept. While the Gift of Understanding simply perceives accurately, the Gift of Wisdom judges spiritual law and truth. "That judgment," says St. Thomas, which is in accordance with Divine truth, pertains to the Gift of Wisdom." "Foolishness," says St. Gregory, "is said of that which perversely judges touching the ordinary purposes of life; and, there fore, it is opposed to Wisdom, which makes a right judgment like that of God."
Now, there are two classes of things presented to our Faith, concerning which we are to believe correctly. First, dogmatic truths; but these, as we have seen, are the objects of Understanding. Secondly, all conditions and tempting objects by which we are surrounded, and all events and dispensations of Providence. Besides dogmatic truth, then, with which the Understanding deals, all these latter are the objects of Wisdom. Wisdom is a power by which we can test and separate all heavenly and eternal things of whatsoever kind from all earthly and delusive things; by which we can discover, therefore, and be thankful for all blessings in disguise. For, consider a moment: about all heavenly things there is a hidden but essential and inherent sweetness, though they impress our first man Adam as being very bitter, and to be avoided. On the other hand, about all really earthly things there is an essential and intrinsic bitterness, though they impress our earthly nature as being very sweet and desirable. Now, by the Fall we lost the power of judging rightly and distinguishing between these things; i.e., we lost Wisdom. To our natural vision all things are reversed; that is to say, instead of heavenly things seeming nearest to our spirits, and earthly things afar off, worldly things seem nearest and heavenly most distant. Instead of earthly things seeming transitory and mere phantasmagoria, they seem real, and heavenly seem shadowy. Instead of earthly things seeming undesirable and heavenly things desirable, it is the earthly that we by nature eagerly pursue, and the heavenly that we avoid. Sorrows and afflictions, ah, how bitter they are to the earthly man; how would he flee them all if he could. But "It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting," is the voice of Him Who is Wisdom itself. Revenge, how sweet it is. But, it is better to turn the other cheek, is the counsel of Wisdom. Riches, earthly ambitions, fame, ease, power over our fellows, ah, how sweet they all seem, how eagerly do all men begotten of Adam pursue after to clutch them, if possible. But, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed is sweet obscurity (and only one who has lost obscurity can know how sweet obscurity is), blessed are the humble, blessed are ye when ye are tempted, blessed are ye when men revile and persecute you for my sake;" this is the voice of Wisdom.
It is the Gift of Wisdom, then, that clarifies the vision of Intellect and Faith and enables us to judge and see all things from the standpoint of the Divine Wisdom, and in their relationship to our eternal career, and, therefore, aright. It is the Gift of Wisdom that enables us to "taste and see how gracious the Lord and His Spirit are;" and therefore to love all those seemingly bitter things that are inherently sweet, and gradually to turn away more and more from those seemingly sweet things that are inherently bitter. And so it revolutionizes the man in all his actions, and makes him an amazement to the eye of the worldly wise. Ah, there was another light in the eyes, another light springing from deep within upon the faces of the Martyrs, than that which came up from the blazing fagots at their feet; it was the light of Wisdom. Indeed and indeed, the wisdom of the mere natural man is, after all, foolishness with God. The great object of Wisdom is, of course, God Himself; for the soul, by its Gift of Wisdom, tastes God in His inner life and perfections. And when the soul stands with clear eye of Wisdom fixed on God, it catches of His illumination, and sees all truth, all states of life, all things, all laws, in some sense as God sees them, and acts accordingly. As Mahomet saw in vision two angels, the one good, the other bad, standing, not side by side in contrast, nor back to back, nor face to face, but feet to feet, the one perpendicularly up, and the other down; so Wisdom sees all heavenly and real things erect, and all earthly things, all counterfeits and cheats of and cheats of Satan, beneath and prone. Wisdom tastes and selects by an eternal science. It cares not for the plaudits of the world, but only for the smile of God. And when earth and earthly things shall have all passed away, she shall find all of hers gathered together forever with God in "the great harvest home" beyond "the stormless coast."
Understanding does not thus judge; it simply penetrates, holds, and enjoys the composite truth and law of God. But Wisdom, as a higher faculty, tastes and thus judges both the truth and the law; and has a relish for that which she has detected to be the really good, the really and eternally beautiful, and the really true.
Holy Fear is the beginning of Wisdom; "for," says St. Thomas, "through Fear does a man show that he has a right judgment concerning divine things." Indeed all the other Six Gifts, and all the virtues, theological, cardinal, and moral, and all the natural powers, enter 'into Wisdom's realm as mere subjects; and Wisdom sits, their monarch and their guide. It checks Hope, as Hope would rush the one way to presumption, or the other to despair. It restrains Faith, as Faith would draw on toward superstition. It holds back and chides Charity, as Charity would throw its mantle over heresy and schism. It checks Fortitude, lest it be too rash; it spurs on Prudence, lest the soul be soft and cowardly in matters of truth in an heretical age; it stimulates Temperance, lest there be no anger whatever at injustice, and at the fortifications which prejudice rears round about error; it restrains Justice, lest it be not tempered with mercy; and zeal, lest it fall headlong in extravagance. It cries "Smite the error; but spare the person."
Wisdom--as She tastes God and the divine mysteries of His law, and of His truth, She finds in them extatic delight. Wisdom,-- She is the mother of asceticism. To the amazement of the world, she kisses every cross which God reaches down to her, "even while its nails are tearing her hands." Wisdom is the gentle guide leading the soul toward that rapt Contemplation, so different from Meditation--that Contemplation, intoxicating flashes of which are vouchsafed by God even here, as a foretaste of one of the joys of the Eternal Beatific vision of His Majesty, His power, and His love;--those simple gazes of the Soul, without any effort of the mind, at the beauty of Truth and Mystery and Spiritual Being,--the rapt gaze of wonder--and then of fluttering joyous wonder--and then of calm, joyous wonder! O blessed Contemplation, O silence, O serene, still splendor--the silence of amazement--the silence of long, rapt, exhausting attention.
It will be perceived that, while the Holy Ghost through the Gifts of Wisdom and tinder- standing perfects the Intellect and Faith as they go out as twins together in their speculative action along two different ways, yet that indirectly, these two Gifts are Her means also for perfecting the Intellect and Faith in their practical action. However, "The Gift of Understanding," says St. Thomas, "is not engaged about good works in themselves considered, but only in accordance as they are to be referred to the rule of eternal law and the end of divine bliss."
Let us come now to the practical action of Faith and Intellect; their operation, that is to say, on truth or error, right or wrong, in the bearing of these on our conduct. The two Gifts which perfect the Faith and Intellect in this respect, are Knowledge and Counsel. There is a sense, then, in which, while Wisdom and Understanding go out speculatively in two directions to deal with external matters, Knowledge and Counsel go in practically to self and personal duty.
III. Thirdly, we pass to the Gift of Knowledge. How does it differ from Wisdom, and how from Understanding? Of course it does not mean what we usually imply by the word knowledge, namely information. For the spiritual Gift of Knowledge is a power or faculty within to know, and not the things known.
Knowledge is, in some respects, akin both to Wisdom and to Understanding. It is very easy, therefore to confuse Knowledge with the other two Gifts just defined. I will endeavor, however, to make it clear to your minds as a distinct Gift from them. It will not require any difficult thought on your part as listeners, but only a little sustained attention for a minute or two.
First, let me give you St. Thomas's definition of this Gift. He says, "Touching whatever verity of the Faith the human intellect perfectly assents to, two things are required, viz.: the one that he wisely receive those things that are propounded; and this pertains to the Gift of Understanding. But the other is, that he have a right and sure judgment concerning those things; discerning, namely, what is to be believed from what is not to be believed; and to this is necessary the Gift of Knowledge. Certainty of cognition is found diversely in different natures according to the condition of each nature. For a man reaches a certain judgment concerning truth by discourse of reason; and therefore mere human knowledge is acquired by the demonstrating action of reason. But in God is a sure judgment of truth separate from all discursive reasoning, and by simple intuition. And therefore the Divine Knowledge is not discursive or ratiocinative, but absolute and simple. To which Knowledge as a Gift of the Holy Ghost is similar."
Now, in defining to yourself the Gift of Knowledge, bear in mind, please, first, that while Wisdom and Understanding act in the main speculatively on Divine truth and law, Knowledge acts in the main practically; and, in a subordinate sense only, speculatively. That is to say, I, for instance, have seen and penetrated a law or truth by my Gift of Understanding; by my Gift of Wisdom I have tasted and tested it; and so judged it as to find it to be in harmony with all Divine things, and to be consummately good and beautiful and true, and, therefore, lovable. Now, a further question arises; what am I going to do about it; how am I going to carry all this out practically in my relationship to God, to my neighbor, to myself, and to all other creatures? Clearly I need another Gift, which shall enable me to take of the things that Wisdom and Understanding have gathered, and apply them practically. Knowledge is this supernatural power and Gift.
Thus it is clear that Knowledge has to touch the speculative on one side and the practical on the other; for, having to apply abstract truth and carry it out in its minutiae in our daily conduct, how can it do so, unless it be able to receive and deal with the same abstract truths with which Wisdom and Understanding themselves deal? It has to be, like them, in some sense a speculative power, if it would be a practical power at all.
In our national Government, the Legislative power makes the laws; the Judicial power tests and interprets them; and the Executive power, taking them from the other two powers, comprehends what it has taken, and sees that all is properly carried out in action; and it must comprehend them in order to carry them out. Understanding and Wisdom see and judge the Divine Law and Truth; but Knowledge, comprehending them equally with Wisdom and Understanding, is the Executive power to translate them into personal conduct.
Let me connect, then, in your mind with the Gift of Knowledge the phrase, "Intuitive judgment of Truth and Law in their bearing on my duty in my four-fold relationship, to God, my neighbor, myself, and all other creatures. It is, like Understanding, a receptive power, while like Wisdom, it is a judging power also.
On the other hand, one respect in which it differs from Wisdom is this, namely: that while Wisdom gazes directly at God and descends thence radiatingly and speculatively to taste and judge all things by the Divine judgment and after the Divine pattern, knowledge gazes at plural creation and sees God everywhere in it, ascending thence, as it were, by a thousand converging lines to the Creator. In all the events of life, in all the dispensations of Providence, it sees God's Hand. The Gift of Knowledge is exercised when, from the cognizance of second causes, the First and Universal Cause is apprehended. "Knowledge," says St. Thomas, "looks upon all creatures as pictures of God."
By it we not only discern and judge between right and wrong, and truth and falsehood, but we also love the right and the true, and act accordingly. It extends itself, therefore, as we have said, to works. It is by a correct life that we cultivate it. And every time we sin, we injure the delicacy of its intuitive powers of cognition; "If we do His Will, we shall know of the doc trifle."
It judges aright of human things in their relationship to God. It judges aright of ourself, there fore, in our relationship to God. By it, we know ourself in some degree as God knows us. Knowledge is, therefore, the mother and the help of self-examination. By it the Holy Ghost starts the tear of repentance, and the resolution to amend. As, wherever it looks in creation God is suggested to us, it is the mother also of recollectedness.
By the Gift of Knowledge, then, we know ourself and our duty to self. By it also we know, as I have said, our three-fold relationship, and there fore our duty, to all without us, namely: first, to God, secondly, to our neighbor, and thirdly, to all other creatures.
First: "This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God;" that Thou art the End of my being; that, as I am in God's image, so Thou only, The Infinite, can fill and satisfy me; that I belong to Thee--to Thee alone--to Thee entirely--to Thee continuously--to Thee triply; by creation, by purchase, and by self-devotion in Sacraments. And, "This is life eternal, to know Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent;" to know Him as my Saviour; as my Food; and to know Him experimentally, by displaying, in my poor degree, His character in all my thoughts and acts.
Secondly; my relationship to and duty towards my neighbor; how I shall practically love him as myself. And, as one of our duties to our neighbor is to extend to him the truth, it is by the Gift of Knowledge within us that the Holy Ghost fans the missionary spirit in the Church and in the soul. St. Augustine, in speaking of this Gift as giving us an intuitive knowledge of these relationships, says, "that God is to be loved for His own sake; and our neighbor in such a way that all our love for him, like all our love for ourself, should have reference to God."
Thirdly; my relationship to all other creatures. By the Gift of Knowledge I know that they be long to God, and not to myself; that they were made for His glory, and not for mine; that He lends some of them to me, but only for my good; and that He can withdraw them at any time. By it I see how, fallen as I am, creatures are apt to stir within me inordinate affections; and that I must only love them as I should love my neighbor, that is to say, in Him. Thus Knowledge is not only the mother of self-examination and recollectedness, but it is also the mother of detachment. It looks at all created things, and not only sees God in them, but also refers them all to God. And as by Knowledge we see intuitively what (in believing speculatively God's truth and law) He would have us to do, it is therefore the Gift that has enriched the Church, with Her Doctors of Moral Theology. Knowledge is the mother of Contemplation in its "direct," or lowest, form. Wisdom is the mother of Contemplation in its "oblique" mode. And Understanding is the mother of Contemplation in its "circular," or very highest mode.
Wisdom and Understanding, then, help the speculative Faith in two directions. But you will perceive that Knowledge helps the speculative Faith in a third direction. The speculative function of Knowledge, however, is simply a basis from which, and a condition under which, it goes strongly forth into a practical function. When we come to the Gift of Counsel, we shall see that we leave entirely the speculative realm, and stand solely in the practical realm; the realm of law and conduct. Thus while Knowledge, as, in part a speculative power, is akin to Wisdom and Under standing above it, which are purely speculative; it is, as a practical power, akin to Counsel below it, which is purely practical.
IV. Let us come to the Gift of Counsel. As I would connect with the Gift of Understanding the phrase, "a lens that penetrates the really true;" and with the Gift of Wisdom the phrase, a "spiritual taste that detects and accepts the really beautiful;" and with the Gift of Knowledge the phrase, "a divine, intuitive cognition of the bearing which the really true and the really beautiful have on our conduct;" so let me connect with the Gift of Counsel the phrase, "a power to see the highest good."
What is Counsel? It is "good advice." By this Gift we not only see right from wrong, and love to choose the right, but, more especially, it is that Gift by which, when two courses of con duct are before us, both of which are right, we are easily moved by the Spirit to see and act upon that of the two which is for the greater glory of God. It is this Gift, then, that has enriched the Church with Her religious orders of men and women; and has given to Her, also, Her great doctors of Ascetic Theology.
There is a distinction between the precepts both of the Gospel and the Church on the one hand, and the counsels of perfection on the other. These counsels of perfection are, 1st, perfect continence in the celebate life; 2d, perfect poverty; and 3 perfect obedience. All Christians are bound to obey the precepts; but it is only the few, that can bear them, that have the vocation to these three counsels of perfection. All are bound to follow the Saviour, except in three respects; for all are not bound to follow Him in not being married, in not possessing any of this world's goods, and in the total crucifixion of one's own will. The rich young man had obeyed all the precepts; ah, but he asked the Saviour for something higher than these. And Jesus revealed him to himself as not possessing the vocation to the counsels, by saying, "Go, then, sell all thou hast, and come and follow Me in perfect chastity, in perfect poverty, and in perfect obedience; in having, that is to say, no will of thine own, but substituting Mine as thy superior for thine. It was too much. The young man did not lose his golden crown because he declined to reach up for the diamond crown. He simply had not from God the vocation to the latter.
The Gift of Counsel, the supernaturally infused habitual disposition to see the right in two courses of conduct, and, among courses all of which are right, to see the best, is a Gift that should be cultivated with utmost assiduity by all superiors of communities, and by all who have the vocation to religion. Nor by these alone; by all Bishops also, by all secular confessors and pastors, who are constantly called on in difficult cases of conscience for advice. Nor by these alone; by all parents, too; for the parent is one of God's agents to guide aright the little ones of His flock; by all elder brothers and sisters; all masters and mistresses; all teachers; by all, indeed, who are placed in positions to guide or influence others. And who indeed shall trace the threads of his influence as they radiate away, running through time and into eternity? They are "the way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; or like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with a tempest." And one of the surest ways to misuse and injure this blessed Gift within us, is to presume in pride to advise those above us. And another is (rejecting one of God's Sacraments in which we ask for counsel), to bend the knee, as a subject, to one's own royal self-counsel in the spiritual life. We are, of course, to exercise self-counsel; otherwise the conscience would languish. But self-counsel as our sole and supreme guide is the deformed child of mother pride. In the language of Catholic antiquity, "Self-will and self counsel are a twofold leprosy." Alas for the man, who, in the difficult trade of sainthood we all have to learn, thinks to acquire that trade without a master. Alas for the spiritually sick man (and we are all sick), who is his own physician. Alas for the prisoner, who, tangled and fallen in the meshes of the eternal statutes, is his own spiritual lawyer. Alas for the child of God, who, in pride, will rush at the vain endeavor to learn Heaven's harmonies on the eternal instruments, without a teacher. It is not only the virtue of humility, but it is also the Gift of Counsel that teaches us even to seek counsel. Counsel is like the compass of a ship it indicates to Wisdom and Understanding the best course to follow.
These, then, are the four Gifts, through which the Holy Ghost perfects the Intellect and Faith first, in their speculative and finally in their practical action. And with them, the Faith and Intellect are fully equipped.
But we not only have Faith seated in the Intellect; we have also Hope seated in the Will; and we have, moreover, Charity seated in the nat ural Affections. And how does the Holy Ghost perfect these?
There remain the three other Gifts, viz.:
Ghostly Strength, Godliness, and Holy Fear. By these, the Divine Spirit elicits acts from our Will and Hope; perfecting them in the three directions of strength, tenderness, and intensity. By the same three Gifts does He also elicit acts from our Affections and Charity; giving to them also strength, tenderness, and intensity.
V. I need hardly define the Gift of Ghostly Strength. Its very title tells of what ft is. We not only need, first, to know speculatively what is to be believed in Truth and Law; and second, what is practically to be done, therefore; but we need, furthermore, the spiritual power seated in ourselves to do what is to be done. We need a fifth Gift, that is, Ghostly Strength. St. Dyonisius defines this Gift as an habitual disposition, through which the Holy Ghost supernaturally enables a man to act and to suffer according to the principles of Divine faith and law. "To act; it is, then, a Gift of supernatural courage. "To suffer; "it is, then, a Gift also of spiritual fortitude. This is the Gift that has adorned the Church with her great army of Martyrs and Confessors. How the Holy Ghost through this Gift, strengthens and perfects the Will, and makes firm the Affections, is too clear to need enlargement on my part. It is that Gift, which enables us to resist temptations; to endure the hardship of a good soldier of the Cross; and to witness a good confession. It is that Gift, which, in its fullness in our Lord, enabled Him to endure with con summate fortitude the agonies of Gethsemane, and to go forward with consummate courage to the flaming fevers, and all the other worse horrors, of the Cross. It is the mother of strong resolutions; and is a sine qua non, if the life is to be permanently amended.
VI. Let us pass now to the sixth Gift, the Gift of True Godliness. St. Thomas calls this Piety; "and it is the better, because the less vague name for the Gift. And what is piety! It is, primarily, the love and veneration of children for their parents. But Piety or True Godliness, inasmuch as it is a Gift of the Holy Spirit, is primarily, a love for, and a reverence and tenderness towards, the All-Father, or God; and secondarily a love for and tenderness towards all which God's Fatherhood involves. St. Thomas, in defining this Gift, says, "Among other things, the Holy Spirit moves us to this; that we may have a certain filial affection for God, according as it is said in Romans, 'we have received the spirit of adoption of sons whereby we cry, Abba Father.' And since to Piety it pertains to exhibit the service and cultus of the Father, it follows that Piety, according as we exhibit such service and worship to God as a Father by the instinct of the Holy Ghost, is a Gift of the Holy Spirit." He calls that service and worship which we pay to our earthly father or other elder relatives, inasmuch as they pertain to earthly relationships, a moral virtue. "So," he continues, "by Piety according as it is a Gift, we not only exhibit service and worship to God, but also to all men inasmuch as they pertain to God. And, on account of this nature of Piety as a Gift, it pertains to it that we honor God's saints, and do not contradict God's Scriptures." Bear in mind, then, that the distinction is this, namely: Piety, as a supernatural Gift, implies love and reverence for God and the worship of God, not in that He is a Creator, or the Omniscient, or a Providence; but in that He is a Father, and tenderness and love towards all that belongs to God, not as a Creator, but as a Father.
Each Gift we have hitherto mentioned has been the mother of some product in the Church. For, it will be remembered, that it was Under standing, that gave to the Church Her Doctors of Dogmatic Theology; and Wisdom, Her Doctors of Mystical Theology; and Knowledge, Her Doctors of Moral Theology and Her Missionaries; and Counsel, Her Doctors of Ascetic Theology, and Her Religious Orders of men and women; and Ghostly Strength, Her Martyrs and Confessors. What then has been the product of this Gift of Piety? The Gift prompts, you will bear in mind, to the worship of God. It has, therefore, given to the Church all Her writers--not in either of the four Theologies--but all Her composers of marvellous litanies, and prayers, and hymns, and Offices of devotion. It has enriched Her with Her four families of wondrous Liturgies; Her Antiphons and commemorations; Her crowns, and rosaries, and chaplets, and stations of prayer. It is never weary of devising new and tenderest kinds of devotional exercises O, so varied and rich, in their classes, orders, genera, and species, in comparison with the one single monotonous mode of extemporaneous prayer outside of the Church, that the Catholic Church stands in this respect like a garden bearing all the blooming flowers of botany. It has prompted Her children to practise meditation, and has enriched Her libraries with innumerable Books of Meditation as guides. It is by this Gift that we love to be much in our closet, because there we find the Father; and much in the Father's Holy House. It is this, that has builded the delicate shrines and mighty cathedrals, as ornate caskets to hold the jewel of the Real Presence and has adorned all His Altars, and made glorious all priestly vestments for His sake. It is the fingers of Piety, that embroider for the Lord the golden threads. It is the hands of Piety, that arrange for Him the flowers. It is the chisel of Piety, that carves for Him the floriated crosses. It is the instinct of Piety, that steals from the crowded street into the silent church to say one short prayer, and then go out on its busy way refreshed. It is the knees of Piety, that bend in adoration of the hidden Saviour. It is Piety that yearns for the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It is the lips of Piety that salute the Altar, and the blessed Gospel. It is the touch of Piety, that handles every instrument of worship and cloth of service with tenderness and reverence. It is the head of Piety, that ever bends at the mention of the Sacred Name, JESUS. It is Piety that would not speak above a whisper in God's House, even when no service is going on.
Piety, as St. Thomas says, loves the Holy Scriptures too, because they are the word of the Father. It goes on and reaches out its tenderly reverent love, and its reverently loving tenderness and its tenderly loving reverence around Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father and our loving Brother. It loves Him in His Holy Sacrament; it loves Him in all pictures and representations of His face and form. It loves sacramentals as well as Sacraments. It leaves it to the demons and to Satan to be shocked, and to shudder at, the sweet Sign of the Cross. It loves to find the Cross in the very form of man on earth; and, in Summer, where God hath set it in His own sparkling diamonds on the blue dome of night. It leaves it for others to use it as a mere trinket for brow or bosom in the ball room. If deprived of it by prejudice, it will, sooner or later, break the bands of Puritanism with indignation, and, while others are using it without thought, it will use it in religion itself. It loves every new name that can be given to it; and when the Holy Ghost Himself calls the Cross, a tree, its heart leaps and trembles at the depth of the mystic thought. O wondrous Tree, with Thy one trunk rooted in the hard rocks of earth, and Thy three only limbs radiating to the gentle heavens! O fertile Tree, with Thy three Branches, empty of mere leaves, and bearing Fruit only, dripping with the balm of Gilead!
And what can Piety do in loving Jesus, but go on and out, and love, too, all He loved; all the saints; and especially Her whom He loved so tenderly, Mary of Nazareth: and all God's children in the Church; and all the Father's children out of the Church; and all His creatures. Piety like a vine, clambers everywhere, and throws its tendrils around whatever hath upon it the touch of the Father's Hand; making even the peasant courteous and gentle to all; and making all merciful, reverential, and full of compassion and tender pity. Wisdom is Godlike; Understanding is analytic; Knowledge is profound and calm and firm. Counsel is fatherly in its advice; Ghostly Strength is the heroic soldier; and, if all these are the men, while Holy Fear is the little child, surely all loving Godliness stands, the gentle woman, among the sevenfold band of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Ghost gives firmness to the Will by Ghostly Strength, so by True Godliness or Piety does He give to it tenderness also. And by the same True Godliness does He perfect the Affections too; giving to them both strength and tenderness.
VII. The Seventh, and last Gift, is the Gift of Holy Fear. The earlier Fathers seem, so far as I can find, to speak of two kinds of fear, only, slavish and chaste. But we find that, eventually, the penetrating Gift of Understand ing, as it gazed at this whole subject of fear, availed to open it out into four kinds, according as there are four external sources to inspire it, and four only. The four things, calculated to stir fear, are the World, Hell, Heaven, and God. One may be deterred from sin by a consideration of what the world will say, or of some worldly loss that we may sustain. This St. Thomas calls mundane fear. Or, one may be deterred from sin by the thought of the punishments of Hell. This he calls servile fear. Neither of these is the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Or, lest we lose Heaven. This he calls initial fear; and though it does not differ in its essence from filial fear, still not even is this the Gift of Holy Fear. The Gift itself is a supernaturally infused disposition, whereby as we look up to God we are filled with a filial anxiety lest we do not please Him; and this not for self's sake, but for God's loving sake only. By Holy Fear, the Holy Ghost moves the soul to keep itself reverently in the presence of God; depending with submission upon His will; and shunning all that can displease Him. It is one of the fountains of recollectedness within us. Holy Fear is not only the last in the list of Gifts, but it is declared in the Bible to be the "Beginning of Wisdom;" it is, therefore, "the alpha and omega of them all;" and one has beautifully said of it that it is "the clasp of the wondrous circlet, without which it cannot be fastened or put on." All other kinds of fear, even initial, have self at their bottom; this kind looks not, first, to self and the world; nor secondly, to self and Hell; nor thirdly, even to self and Heaven; but it finds its motive solely in God. "There is a great difference," says St. Augustine, "between fearing God through dread lest He should chastise us and fearing Him, for fear lest He should withdraw Himself from us. Fear God,' continues he, "like one who fears to displease a person whom he loves with much ardor." This is the only kind of fear that love doth not cast out; for as love increases, so too does our anxiety increase lest, by displeasing God whom we love, He be lost to us forever. This Gift is the mother of true penitence. For sorrow that springs from mundane fear, from loss, that is to say, of the world's good opinion, is only shame; or from loss of the things of the world is gloomy vexation; sorrow that springs from slavish fear of punishment is akin to terror before what is to come; it gives the attrite heart, indeed, which is better than nothing, but it does not give the contrite heart; sorrow that comes from initial fear, from an anticipated loss, that is to say, of Heaven, is, after all, akin to mere disappointment; but sorrow that comes from Holy Fear, from filial anxiety to please God but failure to do so, is the sweet, gentle, tearful and true contrition of heart.
How, then, does Holy Fear perfect the Will? It gives a profound horror of sin; it stimulates the Will, therefore, to avoid sin; it gives us, too, a profound submission to the will of God; it thus aligns our will with the Divine Will. The Holy Ghost, then, gives firmness to the Will by His Gift of Ghostly Strength, tenderness to it by His Gift of Godliness, and intensity to it by His Gift of Holy Fear; so, perfecting the Will and Hope.
Thus, moreover, does He also give to the Affections and Charity, tenderness by His Gift of True Godliness, intensity by His Gift of Fear, and strength by both of these Gifts; so, perfecting the Affections and Charity.
Thus a consideration of the spiritual life and its structure in the soul has driven one to dwell at length on these Seven Gifts as of the utmost importance. And yet how little are they considered in themselves and in their functions how little is the importance of knowing what they are, and of using each aright urged by pastor, god-parent and parent, and by the modern invention of the Sun day-school teacher. How little is the Christian cautioned not to misuse, neglect, or paralyze any one of these precious Gifts; or shown by his teachers exactly what is calculated to abuse and dwarf them. Though the Gifts are the great and immediate engines of the Holy Spirit, whereby He remakes us for Heaven, practically are they not almost neglected among us?
But not yet hath the Divine Spirit completed His supernatural work in the soul. For, besides the three Virtues and the seven Gifts, the Bible speaks of "The Fruits of the Spirit." What are these, and how does the Spirit produce them? A Fruit of the Spirit must be distinguished from good works on the one hand, and from the Virtues and Gifts on the other. The seven corporal and the seven spiritual works of mercy are external products; but the Fruits are, precisely, certain interior effects produced within us. They are produced by the action of the Holy Ghost on the Gifts, and of these on the Virtues, and of these upon the three natural powers in man. A Fruit proceeds from some principle, as from a root or seed. The roots and seeds of the Fruits of the Spirit are the Virtues and Gifts. But no root will bear fruits without the quickening action of the sunshine. The Holy Ghost sends through the soul His Sanctifying Grace, as the sun sends his rays to the plants. This Sanctifying Grace is something different from the Gifts and the Virtues. It is the spiritual sunshine with its light and warmth and chemical power. And it is by it that the Holy Ghost brings Himself to bear upon the Gifts and the Virtues. If we cooperate with this Sanctifying Grace, the seven Gifts, or habitual dispositions, act and elicit from the Intellect motions of Faith, from the Will motions of Hope, and from the Affections motions of Charity; and the result of all this is the Fruits; the interior effects, the sweetening, namely, of our whole character. As I enumerate the Fruits you will see that they are not works, but these interior effects or results; they are simply the inner characteristics of the true Christian; they are the products in our soul of our supernatural habits. They are usually reckoned as twelve in number, viz.:
I. Love; which is the root element of the Christian; and which begins by destruction of sin, advances by the practice of virtue, and attains perfection by the perfect union of the soul with God.
2. Joy; which always follows Love.
3. Peace; which always accompanies Love and Joy. The Soul, which has this Fruit, is like the ocean; which, however its surface be tossed and harassed by earthly tempests, is, in all its lower depths, serene and unmoved.
4. Patience; which is a soul undisturbed by impending evil; it is the guard of Peace.
5. Longanimity; which is a disposition undisturbed by a postponement of expected good.
6. Goodness; which is an interior disposition towards well-doing to all.
7. Benignity; which is a spirit of beneficence in actual well-doing.
8. Mildness; which bears evils with equanimity.
9. Faith; which is (not the Virtue called by the same name, but which, as a Fruit, is) an interior disposition not to distrust the neighbor, and to be always true to him.
10. Modesty; which is a lovely temper of moderation and humility in all things done or said.
11. Chastity; which refrains from unlawful things.
12. Continence; which refrains even from lawful things.
But one or two other thoughts may be touched on. First, the law of the fourteen Works of Mercy is different from the law of the Fruits. For the law of the Works is, "Thou shalt do." But the Holy Spirit's law of the Fruits is, "Thou shalt be." It is prior to, and greater than, the law of the Works. Let me, saith the Spirit, first change thine inward disposition, and then thine outward works will flow naturally and spontaneously. Fruits first; Works afterwards. It is the violation of this law of "Fruits first," that is at the bottom of the comparatively ineffective results we often, alas, secure from volunteer secular workers, and from paid matrons, paid Bible-readers, etc. It is the observance of this law that is at the bottom of the admirable results flowing from our Sister- hoods and Brotherhoods. The chapel and cell of the convent are the magazine and secret of its successful battles out in the world. The hours and hours of prayer and of silence every day, the retreat after retreat, the frequent confession, the daily meditation, all this is where is fought out, after all, the main part of the battle with the external misery and guilt and poverty and ignorance, that stand in cohorts and phalanges in tenement house and purlieu. In the spiritual life one must conquer oneself, if he would conquer another.
Secondly, it is to be noted, that, while we speak of the Fruits in the plural number, the Holy Spirit uses the singular; "The Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience," and the rest. Ah, that one Fruit is like a diamond, many. and glittering in all directions. And that solitary Fruit is Love "Love," as St. Francis Sales says, "which is always joyful; Love which is peaceful; Love which is patient, gentle, full of goodness, and fidelity, meek, long-suffering, modest, continent and chaste." Indeed, without Love we are nothing. For Love is the root of the Virtues, of all the Gifts, of all the Fruits, and of all the Works. Cut the root, and, above, there is nothing but ghastly death.
Such, then, in part, is the interior working of the Holy Spirit within the soul. What a vision of a happy man rises before us, as we picture to ourselves one within whose soul these twelve Fruits have been formed, and warmed, and ripened; full of love for all, full of inner joy, full of peace, and gentleness, and meekness, and all the rest. It is heavenly bliss on earth. And the absence of these Fruits, what is it but the beginning of Hell? For Hell is loveless, and joyless Hell is not peaceful, it is full of turbulence; Hell is impatient, chafing under its chains; Hell is anything but gentle and benignant; Hell breaks faith; Hell is brazen; not modest, and wild not temperate. But when we give ourselves up to the Sanctifying Grace of the Holy Spirit, as a seed to the sun, the Gifts started into action, elicit acts from the three Virtues, which move aright the Intellect, the Will, and the Affections; and then do we finally bear within us the inner characteristics of the true Christian, namely, that inner Fruit of Love, and therefore of loving joy, and of joyful peace, and peaceful patience, and patient gentleness, and gentle benignity, and benign fidelity, and trustful meekness, and meek longanimity, and undisturbed modesty, and modest temperance, and fair chastity.
The Fruits of Patience and Longanimity spring from the Gift of Ghostly Strength acting on the virtues of Hope and Charity. The Fruits of Goodness, Benignity, and Mildness, from the gift of True Godliness acting on the virtue of Charity and the Fruit of Faith arises from the Gift of Wisdom.
In examining the work of Sanctification, one must not omit to speak of the Seven Deadly Sins, of the Seven Corporal works of Mercy, of the Seven Spiritual works of Mercy, and of the Four Cardinal Virtues. But there is no need to dwell at length upon these. For it is clear, that, as the process of sanctification, already fully described, takes place in the soul, the Four Cardinal Virtues expand; the Seven Sins gradually disappear, first in their exterior manifestations and then in their interior roots; first in their mortal, and then in their venial forms; and the Seven Corporal, and the Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy appear in greater number and perfection, as exterior acts spontaneously springing from the inner dispositions, the inner Fruits of the Spirit borne in the Christian character.
But, before leaving this branch of the Subject, you may ask why are the capital sins seven only, the cardinal virtues four only, the theological three only, the works of mercy fourteen only? The deadly sins are seven only, because all sin of every kind, murder, lying and everything else, have been discovered by the Gift of Understanding to be traceable back to these seven roots and to these alone. Similarly all the moral virtues can be traced back till they hinge upon Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice hence these are the Cardinal Virtues. And as all sin can be traced back to seven roots, so all the virtues, can be traced back to the three Theological and the four Cardinal Virtues. Likewise all the works of mercy to the seven spiritual and the seven corporal. It is not strange, then, in the view of concinnity, that all the Gifts should be reducible to the Seven of which Isaiah speaks.
The Cardinal Virtues we all have in some degree by nature. In the subsequent infusion of the Theological Virtues, in the bestowal of the Gifts, in the constant presence of the Sanctifying Grace within us to move the Gifts and the Virtues, in the resultant interior Fruits or Christian characteristics, in the dying out of sin, and the exterior blooming of good works, the soul reaches what is called by theologians its active perfection. But this is not all. There remains one more grade of attainment for it, and that the highest to which the Holy Spirit bears the soul in His sanctifying work; namely, what is called its passive perfection, in the Eight Beatitudes. Fit is it that we should pass from the number seven, to the Saviour's number, eight. Blessed are the poor in Spirit, the meek, the mourners, they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peace-makers, and highest of all, blessed are the persecuted. The first of these Beatitudes (poverty of Spirit,) grows as an interior fruit out of Holy Fear; the second and fourth (meekness, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness) grow out of the Gifts of Ghostly Strength and True Godliness; the third (the mourners) out of Holy Fear and Knowledge; for Knowledge of ourselves, what does it do but move us to mourn? "I renounce all knowledge, O my God," says St. Augustine, "except to know Thee, in order to love Thee, and to know myself; in order to hate myself." The fifth Beatitude (mercifulness) springs, as an interior disposition, out of the Virtue of Charity and the Gifts of Counsel and Godliness; the sixth (pureness of heart) from Faith and Under standing; the seventh, (the spirit of peace from Charity and Wisdom; and the eighth pertains to all the preceding. Such are the sources of the Beatitudes; and we can never attain to the Beatitudes without cultivating these sources.
But the Beatitudes are formed and ripened by a strange husbandry. Wisdom only can comprehend it. Eighteen hundred years ago, our fallen human nature gathered in dark and turbulent storm around the summit of Calvary; its tempestuous masses there giving forth flashes of scorn and roars of hate, In the midst of all that turmoil, its Cause and its Victim, passive and uncomplaining, hung One, Poor in Spirit, Meek, Mourning, Thirsting, Merciful, Pure, the great Peace-Maker, and the Great Persecuted. The very sun in the heavens withdrew from Him its light; and, in the spiritual darkness, even God seemed to have deserted Him. That Storm, that darkness, that desertion, were the final husbandry preparing the Second Man Adam to go up to the everlasting Beatitude of The Throne of God. Even there, upon the Cross, He, Who was Wisdom Itself, tasted the divine gall and loved it. For there sounds, as it were, a voice to us out of that turmoil and darkness, "He was made perfect through sufferings." Strange way to highest blessedness, through cloud, and storm, and darkness I But it is the way He went. And there sounds to you and to me yet another voice out of that past "If thou wouldst attain to the highest, even to the Eight Beatitudes, take up thy cross, and, in meekness, in poverty of spirit and mourning, in mercifulness and purity of heart, FOLLOW THOU ME.