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if a bottle of water were broken, and the water mingled with the river; as if a ray of light flowed back into the sun, and were lost in it, so as never to be separated again. But Christianity preserves the individuality of man, by retaining his own nature, and the recollection of its corruption and misery; and yet combines it with God so closely, as to produce the most perfect union which man can conceive; and which it typifies by the marriage-state, by that bond of connexion which makes woman “bone of man's bone, and flesh of his flesh.” If the union were less complete, man's desire of approximation to the Being whom he loves would not be satisfied. If it were more, the weakness of man would be lost in the greatness of God, and the greatness of God would cease to be an object of infinite admiration; and with the loss of this, man's happiness would cease also; or rather his consciousness would cease; for consciousness cannot exist without the perception of two things—of ourselves, and of something without us. When I speak of myself, I feel and express a distinction between myself and something which is not myself. When I speak of other things, I feel also that I have an existence besides and beyond them. And consciousness becomes happiness, when it passes from the contemplation of an imperfect object to one that is perfect; it is keen enjoyment when difficulty, doubt, or danger, have stood in the way, and yet are removed. It is enhanced by the degree of imperfection, when the perfection is in proportion; when, for instance, infinite misery is followed by infinite happiness. Evil, therefore, is a necessary element in it.

The sense of this may be kept up by the constant recollection of past misery, and of present helplessness if left to ourselves. And yet it may be constantly balanced by the sense of certain present good --good which covers all the suffer

and yet

ing of the past, and removes all disquietude for the future. And thus it is possible to conceive how man, under the dispensation of Christ, may be happy to all eternity, with a perpetual thirst and yet perpetual satisfaction; happy as an individual person, and yet completely bound up and dependent on another Being; still looking back without weariness, and forward without impatience; contemplating God in himself, and himself in God; feeling that he is man,

also that he is divine ; standing close on the throne of heaven, yet never forgetting his own infinite nothingness; exercising almighty power with the most unfeigned humility; and traversing from hour to hour, with a never-wearied eye, the distance between himself and his Maker, without any dissatisfaction or any satiety.

But to preserve this distinction, let us remember, self-abasement, shame, consciousness of sin, the sense of entire helplessness, and absolute dependence upon God, are necessary. No man can be exalted, without being previously humbled. All the Christian doctrines which speak of man's natural corruption, of the grievousness of sin, of the wrath of God, of the atonement, of judgment, of punishment, of justification only through the merits of our Lord, -all bear upon this point, and interpose between man and God to prevent the presumption, which might follow on the counterbalancing doctrines of the sacraments. And thus here also, as so often before, let us observe that the law of perfection consists in holding two things together, distinct without being divided; in reconciling plurality with unity. The Oriental philosophy holds unity without plurality. It would merge the individual man in the abyss of God's nature, and destroy his separate exist

The common religions of the world keep men apart from God by sin and shame, and cannot comprehend the union. They err by maintaining plurality. The Catholic doctrine asserts both the union of man with God, and the preservation of man's individuality. It neither confounds nor divides. It does not profess to explain; but it boldly asserts the fact, and provides for its accomplishment in a way which human reason could not have devised, and which none but divine power could have realised.


And, once more, observe how it embodies in the person of every baptised Christian a mystery fully as inexplicable as that which is laid as the foundation of Catholic doctrine, and from which the rationalist turns with ignorant contempt.

Every individual Christian (perhaps it may be said that every man in the workings of his intellect) realises in his own mind the fact of a Trinity in Unity, and an Unity in Trinity. Perhaps it is in this sense chiefly, that he is said to have been created in the image of God. In every act of Christian consciousness consciousness, that is, of his relation to God in Christ, there is within him a thinking power or person, which he calls himself. But this thinking power, in order to think at all, must be contemplating something. He is contemplating, first, himself in his own natural state of want, misery, and helplessness. From this he passes on to contemplate the same self, as he is in God. Here are three distinct persons, as distinct as can be imagined ; and the very act of thinking implies that they are so; since an object to be contemplated must be distinct from the faculty which contemplates it; and a relation, to be perceived, must exist between two distinct things; as, for instance, being myself in my natural, and myself in my Christianised, condition. I must regard the two as separate from each other, otherwise no relation is discoverable between them. And yet these three are one.

The I who contemplate, am the same with the I who am contemplated — the natural man is one with the Christianised man. If they were not one and the same, there would be no satisfaction in tracing the relation between them. And the very subject of contemplation is the union of these three distinct persons. “I live," says St. Paul ;“yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. ii. 20).

This deep mystery in the constitution of the human mind has engaged the attention of many modern philosophers, who have examined the theory of consciousness, especially in Germany. It is not to be used as a confirmation, or illustration, or explanation of the great and solemn mystery of Christianity ; for who would dare to draw analogies between the essential nature of God and the finite mind of man? Let me most anxiously guard against any such abuse. But it is a satisfactory rebuke to those who would deny the Christian mystery, as if it were contrary to reason. If it be so, then man's existence is also contrary to reason ; for a mystery equally unintelligible to us, yet palpably a fact, is involved in every act of consciousness. It occurs also, where we should expect to find it, in the metaphysical speculations of Aristotle, and is also undoubtedly hinted at in Plato. Aristotle expressly says, that in every act of thought “ the mind which contemplates, and the object contemplated,” the tò voūv and tò vooúpevov, are the same. They both coexist in one and the same subject, as the convex and concave form are united in one and the same line. And in his theory of friendship, which he would make essential to human happiness, if not its highest good, he states that to form a perfect friendship, three conditions are required—two distinct persons, to reciprocate the affection ; and yet in these distinct persons the greatest possible equality, similarity, and communion, ισότης, ομοιότης, and κοινότης. They must be separate, and yet one. And he traces, as we have traced, the delight of friendship and love to the act by which the mind contemplates the object which it loves, as distinct from itself, and yet as united to itself—as a second self.

There is another observation to be made respecting this Catholic doctrine of the union of man with God through the sacraments of the Church.

When the Church declares that baptism cleanses from the stain of sin, and makes us at that moment pure and acceptable, justified and righteous in the sight of God, we might very justly be content with its proving that God himself had sanctioned such a declaration, and not require to know the way

in which the work of justification was accomplished. But when this question is asked, it is answered by the same fact of our being by baptism united to Christ. We have seen how man's sense of his own weakness, misery, and imperfection, is soothed at once by his union with a Being of infinite perfection; how there is a power in goodness, as in evil, to flow over beyond itself, and cover every thing which is brought into a certain contact with it. When the woman touched the hem of our Saviour's garmer the healing influence with an electrical rapidity passed into her diseased frame. It is like the widow's cruise of oil. Bring all the vessels that can be procured, it will fill them all. Set down thousands of famished men, place them in communication with the Apostles, and the Apostles with our Lord, and the five loaves will feed them all. It is a law not of Christianity only, but of Nature. The organisation of the world, in all its parts, is carried on upon the principle of gathering vast masses of

1 Ethics, lib. 8.

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