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THAT THE LOVE OF GOD'S WILL SIGNIFIED IN THE COMMANDMENTS MOVES US TO THE LOVE OF THE COUNSELS.
O Theotimus! how amiable is this Divine will! O how amiable and desirable it is! O law all of love and all for love! The Hebrews by the word, peace, understand the collection and perfection of all good things, that is, happiness: and the Psalmist cries out: Much peace have they that love thy law; and to them there is no stumbling-block:368368Ps. cxviii. 165. as though he would say: O Lord! what delights are in the love of thy sacred commandments! The heart that is possessed with the love of thy law is possessed of all delicious sweetness. Truly that great king whose heart was made according to the heart of God, did so relish the perfect excellence of the divine commandments, that he seems to be a lover captivated with the beauty of this law as with the chaste spouse and queen of his heart; as appears by his continual praises thereof.
When the heavenly spouse would express the infinite sweetness of her divine lover's perfumes: Thy name, says she unto him, is as oil poured out:369369Cant. i. 2. as though she said: thou art so excellently perfumed, that thou seemest to be all perfume, and thou art more fitly termed ointment and perfume, than anointed and perfumed. So the soul that loves God is so transformed into the divine will, that it merits rather to be called, God's will, than to be called, obedient and subject to his will. Whence God says by Isaias, that he will call the Christian church by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will pronounce, 341imprint, and engrave, in the hearts of his faithful; and then, explaining this name, he says it shall be: My will in her:370370Is. lxii. 14. as though he had said, that among such as are not Christians every one has his own will in the midst of his heart, but among the true children of our Saviour, every one shall forsake his own will, and shall have only one master-will, dominant and universal, which shall animate, govern and direct all souls, all hearts and all wills: and the name of honour amongst Christians shall be no other than God's will in them, a will which shall rule over all wills, and transform them all into itself; so that the will of Christians and the will of Our Lord may be but one single will. This was perfectly verified in the primitive Church, when, as says the glorious S. Luke: In the multitude of the faithful there was but one heart and one soul:371371Acts iv. 32. for he means not there to speak of the heart that keeps alive our bodies, nor of the soul which animates hearts with a human life, but he speaks of the heart which gives our souls heavenly life, and of the soul that animates our hearts with the supernatural life; the one, the singularly one heart and soul of true Christians, which is no other thing than the will of God. Life, says the Psalmist, is in the will of God,372372Ps. xxix. 6. not only because our temporal life depends on the divine pleasure, but also because our spiritual life consists in the execution of it, by which God lives and reigns in us, making us live and subsist in him. On the contrary, the wicked from of old (that is, always) have broken the yoke of the law of God, and have said: I will not serve.373373Jer. ii. 20. Wherefore God says that he named them transgressors and rebels from the womb;374374Is. xlviii. 8. and speaking to the king of Tyre, he reproaches him for having set his heart as the heart of God:375375Ezech. xxviii. 2. for the spirit of revolt will have its heart to be its own master, and its own will to be sovereign like the will of God; it would not have the divine will to reign over it, but would be absolute and without any dependence. O eternal Lord! suffer not this,—but effect that not my will but thine be done. Yes, we are in this world not to do our own will, but the will of thy goodness which has placed us here. 342It was written of thee, O Saviour of my soul, that thou didst the will of thy Eternal Father,376376Ps. xxxix. 9. and by the first act of the will of thy human soul, at the instant of thy conception, thou didst lovingly embrace this law of the divine will, and didst place it in the midst of thy heart there to reign and have dominion for ever. Ah! who will give my soul the grace of having no will save the will of her God!
Now when our love is exceeding great towards God's will, we are not content to do only the Divine will which is signified unto us by the commandments, but we also put ourselves under the obedience of the counsels, which are only given us for a more perfect observing of the commandments, to which also they have reference, as S. Thomas says excellently well. O how well does he observe the prohibition of unlawful pleasures who has even renounced the most just and legitimate delights! How far is he from coveting another man's goods who rejects even such as he might holily have kept! How far is he from preferring his own will before God's, who, to do God's will, submits himself to that of a man!
David upon a day was in his camp, and the Philistine garrison in Bethlehem.3773772 Kings xxiii. And David longed, and said: Oh! that some man would give me a drink of the water out of the cistern that is in Bethlehem, by the gate! And behold, he had no sooner said the word than three valiant men set out, hand and head lowered, break through the hostile camp, go to the cistern of Bethlehem, draw water, and bring it to David, who, seeing the hazard which these three knightly men had run to gratify his longing, would not drink the water obtained at the peril of their blood and life, but poured it out in sacrifice to the eternal God. Ah! mark, I beseech you, Theotimus, how great the ardour of these cavaliers in the service and satisfaction of their master! They fly, they break through the ranks of their enemies, they incur a thousand dangers of destruction, to gratify only one simple desire, which their king expresses before them. Our Saviour when he was in this world declared his will in some cases by way of commandment, and in many others he only signified it 343by way of desire: for he did highly commend chastity, poverty, obedience and perfect resignation, the abnegation of one's own will, widowhood, fasting, continual prayer; and what he said of chastity, that he who could win the prize should win it, he said sufficiently of all the other counsels. At this desire, the most valiant Christians have entered on the race, and overcoming all repugnances, concupiscences and difficulties, they have arrived at holy perfection, keeping themselves to the strict observance of their King's desires, and by this means bearing away the crown of glory.
Verily, as witnesses the divine Psalmist, God hears not only the prayers of his faithful, but even their very desire and the mere preparation of their hearts for prayer;378378Ps. ix. 38 so inclined and forward is he to do the will of those who love him. And why shall not we then in return be so zealous in following God's holy will, as to do not only what he orders, but also what we know he likes and wishes. Noble souls need no other spur to the undertaking of a design than to know that their beloved desires it: My soul, said one of them, melted when he spoke.379379Cant. v. 6.
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