Obrazy na stronie

Adam; and in his state of innocence it was quite jnstifiable ; but in consequence of sin, it has become criminal and unbounded. We see then both the source of this love, and the cause of its enormity and guilt. It is the same with the desire of dominion, with inactivity, and all other vices; and this idea may

be easily transferred to the dread which we have of death. This dread was natural and proper in Adam, when innocent; because as his life was approved of God, it ought to be so by man; and death would have been dreadful, as terminating a life conformed to the will of God. But since man has sinned, his life has become corrupt, his body and soul mutually hostile to each other, and both hostile to God.

But while this change has poisoned a life once so holy, the love of life has yet remained; and that dread of death, which has remained the same also, and which was justifiable in Adam, is not justifiable in


We see, then, the origin of the dread of death, and the canse of its guilt. Let the illumination of faith correct the error of nature.

The dread of death is natural to man; but it was in his state of innocence, because death could not enter paradise, without finishing a life perfectly pure. It was right, then to hate it, when it went to separate a holy soul from a holy body : but then it is right to love it, when it separates a holy soul from an impure body. It was right to shrink from it when it would have broken up the peace between the soul and the body ; but not when it terminates an otherwise irreconcileable dissension. In fact, when it would have afflicted an innocent body; when it would have deprived the body of the power of knowing God; when it would have separated from the soul a body submissive to its will, and co-operating with it; when it would have terminated all the blessings of wbich man knew himself capable, then it was right to abhor it. But, when it terminates an impure life; when it takes away from the body the liberty of sinning; when it

[ocr errors]

rescues the soul from the might of a rebel, who counteracts all bis efforts for salvation, it is very improper to retain towards it the same opinions.

We must not then give up this love of life which was given us by nature ; for we have received it from God. But then, let it be a love for that same lite which God gave, and not for a life directly contrary to it. And whilst we approve the love which Adam felt to the life of innocence, and which Jesus Christ also had for his life, let it be one business to hate a life, the reverse of that which Jesus Christ loved, and to attain to that death which Jesus Christ experienced, and which happens to a body approved of God; but let us not dread a death, which, as it operates to punish a guilty body, and to cleanse a vitiated body, ought to inspire in us very different feelings, if we have but the principles, in however small a degree, of faith, hope, and charity.

It is one of the great principles of Christianity, that all which happened to Jesus Christ, should take place in the soul and body of each Christian : that as Jesus Christ has suffered during his mortal life, has died to this mortal life, has risen to a new life, has ascended to heaven, where he has sat down at the right hand of the Father; so ought both the body and soul to suffer, die, rise again, and ascend to heaven.

All these things are accomplished during this life in the soul, but not in the body. The soul suffers and dies to sin ; the soul is raised to a new life; and then, at last, the soul quits the earth, and ascends to heaven in the holy paths of a heavenly life; as St. Paul says, Our conversation is in heaven.

But none of these things take place in the body during this present life; they will occur hereafter. For, in death, the body dies to its mortal life: at the judgment, it shall rise to new life ; and after the judgment, it shall ascend to heaven, and dwell there for ever. So that the same train of events happens to the body as to the soul, only at different times : and these changes in the body do not take place till those of the soul are

complete—that is, after death. So that death is the coronation of the beatification of the soul, and the dawn of blessedness to the body also.

These are the wonderful ways of Divine wisdom respecting the salvation of souls! And St. Augustine teaches us here, that God has adopted this arrangement to prevent a serious evil; for if the period of the act of the spiritual regeneration of the soul had been made the period of the death and resurrection of the body also, men would only have submitted to the obedience of the gospel from the love of life; but by the present arrangement, the power of faith is much more manifested, whilst the way to immortality is traced through the shades of death.

4. It were not right that we should not feel and mourn over the afflictions and misfortunes of life, like angels who have not the passions of our nature. It were not right either that we should sorrow without consolation like the heathens, who know not the hope of grace. But it is right that we should be afflicted and comforted as Christians, and that the consolations of grace should rise superior to the feelings of nature; so that grace should not only be in us, but victorious in us; so that, in hallowing our heavenly Father's name, his will should become ours; so that his grace should reign over our imperfect nature, and that our afflictions should be, as it were, the matter of a sacrifice which grace completes, and consumes to the glory of God: and that these individual sacrifices should honor and anticipate that universal sacrifice, in which our whole nature shall be perfected by the power of Jesus Christ.

And hence we derive benefit from our imperfections, since they serve as matter for such sacrifices.* For it is the object of true Christians to profit by their own imperfections, inasmuch as all things work together for good to the elect.

And if we' are careful, we shall find great profit and

* 2 Corinthians xii. 9,10.

edification in considering this matter as it is in truth. For since it is true, that the death of the body is only the image of the death of the soul, and that we build on this principle, that we have good ground to hope for the salvation of those who sedeath we mourn; then it is certain, that if we cannot check the tide of our grief and distress, we may at least derive from it this benefit, that if the death of the body is so dreadful, as to give rise to such emotions, that of the soul would have caused us agonies fare less consolable. God has sent the former to those for whom we weep; but we hope that the latter he has averted. See then in the magnitude of our woes, the greatness of our blessings; and let the excess of our grief, be the measure of our joy.

5. Man is evidently too weak to judge accurately of the the train of future events. Let our hope, then, be in God; and do not let us-weary ourselves by rash and unjustifiable anticipations. Let us commit

Let us commit ourselves to God for the guidance of our way in this life, and let not discontent have dominion over us.

Saint Augustine teaches us that there is in each man, a Serpent, an Eve, and an Adam. Our senses and natural propensities are the Serpent; the excitable desire is the Eve; and reason is the Adam. Our nature tempts us perpetually ; criminal desire is often excited; but sin is not completed till reason consents.

Leave then this Serpeut and this Eve to distress us if they will; but let us pray to God so to strengthen our Adam by his grace, that he may abide victorious, that Jesus Christ may be his conqueror, and may dwell in us for ever.*

* How different the thoughts of Pascal from those of Cic; ero in his treatise on consolation ! A. E.



O LORD, whose Spirit is in all things so good and gracious, and who art so merciful, that not only the prosperities, but even the humiliations of thy elect are the results of thy mercy; graciously enable me to act in the state to which thy righteous hand has reduced me, not as a heathen, but as a true Christian ; that I may recognize thee as my Father and my God, in whatever state I am ; since the change in my condition, makes no change in thine ; since thou art always the same, though I am ever variable; and that thou art no less God, when thou ministerest affliction or punishment, than in the gifts of consolation and peace.

2. Thou hast given me health to serve thee, and I have profanely misused it. Suffer me not so to receive it as to anger thee by my impatience. I have abused my health, and thou hast rightly punished me: let me not abuse thy correction also. And since the corruption of my nature is such, that it renders thy favors hurtful to me, let thy Almighty grace,' O God, make these thy chastenings profitable. If in the vigor of health, my heart was filled with the love of this world, destroy that vigor for my safety's sake, and unfit me for the enjoyment of this world, either by weakness of body, by overcoming love, that I may rejoice in thee only.

3. O God, to whom at the end of my life, and at the end of this world, I must give an account of all that I have done; O God who permittest this world to exist, only for the trial of thine elect, and the punishment of the wicked; O God, who leavest hardened sinners to the luxurious but criminal enjoyments of this world; O God who causest this body to die, and at the hour of death separatest our souls from all that in this world

« PoprzedniaDalej »