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7. For there are three that bear record in beaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost : and these three are one.
8. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood : and these three agree in one.
9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater : for this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son.
The MORAL REFLECTION.
HE Christian religion considers its
professors as newly born to God T
either by the water of baptism, or the tears of repentance, and therefore exhorts them, by St. Peter, to suck in the milk of his holy word,
and to imprint in their minds its great mysteries, to the end that, by preserving the grace, either received in baptism, or by repentance, they may adyance in virtue. As new-born babes, desire the fincere milk of the word, that J'e may grow thereby, 1 Pet. ii. 2.
And, because they will find in their way most potent enemies, that endeavour to put a stop to their progress, she arms them with faith, by which all the saints have gloriously triumph'd over the world, and happily purchased heaven.
And St. John, in the present epistle, assures us, that our faith is the most proper weapon to conquer the world, and all those enemies, that, with it, conspire our ruin : This is the victory that overcometh the world, even out faith : For faith is the first principle, the foundation of all good works, the universal instrument to acquire virtue, and to repel all temptations to vice. Without faith, we are slaves to nature, a prey to pleasure,
and wholly given up to the government of fenfe and passion ; we not only lie open to the treachery of the world, but even dote on its treason j put on its chains, not only without reluctancy, but even with pleasure.
But when we are born of God by a lively faith, when we firmly believe those great truths Christ revealed to the apostles, and they to us ; then we are fenced against all the charming assaults of the world, and enabled not only to resist, but to overcome its sollicitations. This is tize victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. It persuades us to subdue our flesh, to mortify our unruly appetites, and to postpone present happiness to the expectation of a future felicity: for who firmly believes there is another region beyond this, and that our souls will live, when our bodies lie in the grave, that their condition in the next world will answer the lives we lead in this, that the good shall enjoy an eternity of happiness, and the bad an endless misery; whosoever, I fay, believes such a punishment will follow sin, and such a reward vir. tue, has a sufficient motive to avoid the one, and to practise the other.
Let the world offer a true believer all its treasures of wealth, grandeur, and pleasure, set out in the most charming appearance; he will look upon them with contempt and disdain, as false lights that only shine to lead him into a precipice, and then vanilh ; he will esteem all those things that affect the senses, as corruptible, fleet, and fading, and, by consequence, not to bear any proportion with those eternal pleasures and glory, God has promis’d for those who contemn them, or with the torments that follow the criminal enjoyment of them. This is the victory that overcomesh the world, even our faith.
It was this article of faith, that gave courage to the martyrs to confess Christ before tyrants, and strength to suffer for his name all the torments that malice could invent, or rage inflict: they were convinced, that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the glory that ·Mall be revealed; and this enabled them to bear up against the most cruel tortures, and in patience to pofless their souls, Luke xxi. 19.
In a word, faith is the source and foul of all fupernatural virtues : with faith they rise, without it they fall into nothing: patience vanishes, humility retires, hope ftaggers, and charity dies ; so that without it we become examples of blindness, weakness, misery and sin.
But, if faith in Jesus Christ overcomes the world, as St. John affirms ; Who is he that overcometh the world, but be that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? how comes it that so many, who profess Christianity, are saves to the world ? that they espouse its inaxims, and obey all its commands ? one would think, by their conduct, Christendom was no less infidel than America, and that faith was as great a stranger to Europe, as in our Saviour's time to Jewry. When the Son of man cometh, fall be find faith on the earth ? Luke: xviii. 8.
It is true, however, many believe Christ is God;, that he died for the sins of the world ; nay, they credit all the articles of faith, all the rules of morality he has revealed; yet this alone is not that faith, which overcometh the world ; it must be animated by charity, enlivened by those virtues, Christ recommended to our practice ; without these acceffories, our faith is dead, and those, that go no farther than speculation, are but half Christians ; they are of the religion of those, that profess him
with their tongues, and deny him by their actions ; they are mere impostors, as St. Ambrose says.
That faith may influence our actions, we must frequently meditate upon those truths Christ hath revealed; we must imprint them in our memories, and engrave them on our hearts ; a lively apprehension of those joys, he has prepared for those that love him, will give us an aversion to those the world can either give or promise ; and the contemplation of that fire he has kindled for those, that disobey his commands, will fright us into obedience ; in fine, the prospect of the reward will invite us to the exercise of all virtues, and that of the punishment will deter us from vice.
Increase, O Lord, my faith : give me a faith not dead, which will only serve to render me more criminal, but a faith animated with perfect charity, which will not only conform my understanding to thy revelations, but excite efficaciously my will to an exact compliance with all thy commands.
GOSPEL of St. John, Chap. xx. Verse
19. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were fout, where the disciples were asemhled, for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and food in the midst, and saib unto them, Peace be unto you.
20. And when he had so isaid, he fewed unto them bis bands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
21. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you ; as my Father hath sent me, even so send
22. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and faith unto them, Receive je the Holy Ghoft.
23. Whose foever fins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose foever fins je retain, they are retained.
24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I fall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not beLieve.
The MORAL REFLECTION.
UR blessed Saviour, after his glorious re
surrection, appeared to his disciples feldomer than they desired, but often enough to confirm them in the faith of his Divinity, to reveal those truths he commanded them to preach, and to model the government of his Church.
He conquered death by dying ; the third day after, he triumph'd over it by rising, not only in a state of life but of glory, and the fame day revived the drooping faith of his dear apostles by à double appearance ; first, to Mary Magdalen, and, secondly, in the evening to all the apostles, except St. Thomas who was absent: Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were fout, where the disciples were af. sembled, for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and food in the midft.
He honoured Magdalen with the first visit, because she loved much, Luke vii. 47. Since her conversion, all criminal love was wholly turned into divine ; her heart was more in her Saviour's breast than in her own ; and she seemed divided from her felf, when separated from him : this made her repair to the sepulchre betimes; and when