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Nothing, except sin, is done without that will of God which is called absolute, or will of good-pleasure, which no one can hinder, and which is only known to us by events: these show us, by their very happening, that God has willed and intended them.

Let us consider, in one view, Theotimus, all that has been, is, and shall be, and ravished with amazement, we shall be forced to cry out with the Psalmist: I will praise thee, for thou art fearfully magnified; wonderful are thy works, and my soul knoweth right well. Thy knowledge is become wonderful to me; it is high, and I cannot reach to it.398398Ps. cxxxviii. 14, 6 And from thence we pass on to most holy complacency, rejoicing that God is so infinite in wisdom, power and goodness, which are the three divine attributes, of which the world is but a small evidence, or, as it were, sample.

Let us behold men and angels and all the variety of nature, of qualities, conditions, faculties, affections, passions, graces and privileges, which the Divine Providence has established in the 366innumerable multitude of those heavenly intelligences and human creatures in whom God's justice and mercy are so admirably exercised, and we shall be unable to contain ourselves from singing, with a joy full of respect and loving dread; Mercy and judgment I will sing to thee, O Lord.399399Ps. c. 1.

Theotimus, we are to take an exceeding complacency in seeing how God exercises his mercy in so many different benefits which he distributes amongst men and angels in heaven and on earth, and how he exerts his justice by an infinite, variety of pains and chastisements: for his justice and mercy are equally amiable and admirable in themselves, since both of them are no other thing than one same most singular goodness and divinity. But the effects of his justice being sharp and full of bitterness to us, he always sweetens them with the mingling of his mercies, preserving the green olive amidst the waters of the deluge of his just indignation, and giving power to the devout soul, as to a chaste dove, to find it at last, provided always that after the fashion of doves she very lovingly ruminate in her mind. So death, afflictions, anguish, labours, whereof our life is full, and which by God's just ordinance are the punishments of sin, are also, by his sweet mercy, ladders to ascend to heaven, means to increase grace, and merits to obtain glory. Blessed are poverty, hunger, thirst, sorrow, sickness, death, persecution: for they are indeed the just punishments of our faults, yet punishments so steeped in, or, to use the physician's term, so aromatized with the Divine sweetness, benignity and clemency, that their bitterness is most delicious. It is a strange yet a true thing, Theotimus; if the damned were not blinded by their obstinacy, and by their hatred for God, they would find consolation in their torments, and see the divine mercy admirably mingled with their eternally tormenting flames. Hence the Saints, considering on the one side the horrible and dreadful torments of the damned, praise the Divine justice therein, and cry out: Thou art just, O Lord, and thy judgment is right.400400Ps. cxviii. 137. but seeing on the other side that these pains, though eternal and incomprehensible, come yet far short of the faults and crimes for which they were 367inflicted—ravished with God's infinite mercy, they cry out: O Lord, how good thou art, since in the very heat of thy wrath thou canst not keep the torrent of thy mercies from pouring out its waters on the pitiless flames of hell!

Mercy, O Lord, hath not thy soul forsaken,

E’en while thy justice hath its vengeance taken

In flames of hell; nor could thine ire repress

The torrent of thy wonted graciousness:

In fiercest wrath thou still dost interlace

Thy sternest justice with thine acts of grace.


Let us come, next, to ourselves in particular, and behold the multitude of interior and exterior goods, as also the very great number of interior and exterior pains, which the Divine Providence has prepared for us: and, as if opening the arms of our consent, let us most lovingly embrace all this, acquiescing in God's most holy will, and singing unto him as it were a hymn of eternal acquiescence: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven: yea, Lord, thy will be done on earth,—where we have no pleasure which is not mixed with some pain, no roses without thorns, no day without following night, no spring without preceding winter; on earth, O Lord! where consolations are thinly, and labours thickly, sown: yet, O God! thy will be done, not only in carrying out thy commandments, counsels and inspirations, which are things to be done by us, but also in suffering the afflictions and pains which have to be borne by us; so that thy will may do by us, for us, in us, and with us, all that it pleases.


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