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CHAPTER IV.

THAT DIVINE LOVE MORE EXCELLENTLY SANCTIFIES THE VIRTUES WHEN THEY ARE PRACTISED BY ITS ORDER AND COMMANDMENT.

The fair Rachel had children by Jacob in two ways. She counted as hers the children of her handmaid Bala, and afterwards she had children of her own—namely, Joseph and the beloved Benjamin.

Now I say to you, my dear Theotimus, that charity and sacred love, a hundred times more fair than Rachel, ceaselessly desires to produce holy operations. She calls the operations of the other virtues her offspring because they are produced by her order, love being the master of the heart, and consequently of all the works of the other virtues done by its consent. But, further, this divine love has two acts which are her own proper issue and of her extraction. Of these the one is effective love, which, as another Joseph, using the plenitude of royal authority, 473subjects and reduces all the people—her faculties, powers, passions and affections—to God's will, that it may be loved, obeyed and served above all things, by this means putting the great celestial commandment in execution: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. The other is affective or affectionate love, which, as a little Benjamin, is exceedingly delicate, tender, pleasing and amiable, but in this more happy than Benjamin, that charity its mother dies not in its bringing forth, but, so to say, gains a new life, by the sweetness she feels in it.

Thus then, Theotimus, the virtuous actions of the children of God all belong to charity; some of them because she produces them of her own nature; others because she sanctifies them by her quickening presence; and finally others, by the authority and command which she exercises over the other virtues, whence she makes them spring. And these last, as indeed they are not so eminent in dignity as the actions which properly and immediately issue from charity, yet incomparably surpass those which take their whole sanctity from the mere presence and society of charity.

A great general of an army having won some important battle, will without doubt have all the honour of the victory, and not unreasonably; for he himself will have fought in the very front of the army, doing many great feats of arms, and for the rest he will have arrayed his troops, and ordained and commanded all that was done: so that he is considered to have done all, either by himself, fighting with his own hand, or by his direction, commanding others. And even if some friendly troops come unexpectedly and fall in with the army, yet the general is not deprived of the honour of their work, for though they have not received his commands, yet they have served him and followed his intentions. Nevertheless, although we attribute the glory as a whole to him, we do not fail to give each part of his army due credit for its own share; we say that the vanguard did this, the main body that, the rearguard the other; the French behaved thus, the Italians thus, the Germans and the Spaniards thus: yea we praise the private individuals who have 474distinguished themselves in the battle. So, my dear Theotimus, amongst all the virtues, the glory of our salvation and victory over hell is ascribed to divine love, which, as prince and general of the whole army of virtues, does all the exploits by which we gain the triumph. For sacred love has his proper actions which issue and proceed from himself, by which he does wonders of arms against our enemy, and withal he ranges, commands and orders the actions of other virtues, which are therefore, termed acts commanded or ordained by love. And if, at last, some virtues perform their operations without his order, yet if they assist his intention, which is God's honour, he will still acknowledge them to be his own. Nevertheless, though we say in general, after the divine Apostle, that Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things,5045041 Cor. xiii. 7. in a word, that it does all, yet we distribute in particular the praise of the salvation of the Blessed to other virtues, according as they excelled in each one; for we say some were saved by faith, others by alms-deeds, others by temperance, prayer, humility, hope, chastity, because the acts of these virtues have appeared with lustre in these saints. Yet again after we have extolled these particular virtues we must reciprocally refer all their honour to divine love, which to every one gives all the sanctity which they have. For what else does the glorious Apostle mean when he teaches that charity is kind, is patient, that it believes all, hopes all, bears all, save that charity ordains and commands patience to be patient, hope to hope, faith to believe. And truly, Theotimus, at the same time the Apostle intimates that love is the soul and life of all the virtues, as though he would say: patience is not patient enough, nor faith faithful enough, nor hope confident enough, nor mildness sweet enough, unless love animate and quicken them. The same thing this same vessel of election gives us to understand when he says, that nothing profits him and he is nothing without charity; for it is as though he had said, that without love a man is not patient, nor mild, nor constant, nor faithful, nor hopeful, in the way a servant of God should be, which is the true and desirable being of man.

 


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