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and ye gave me no meat, I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink i

5. Let us consider charity in regard to heaven itself. We say benevolence is a celestial virtue, and we propose this fifth reflection to you in order to enforce the necessity, and to display the excellence of charity. Understand, my brethren, all the other virtues, which the gospel prescribes to us, are characterized by a mortification, which obliges us to enter into our nothingness, and reminds us of our turpitude and misery. They are not absolute postive excellencies, they are remedies for our ills. For example, faith supposes our ignorance; hope supposes poverty ; patience implies afflictions; repentance supposes sin. All public worship, prayer, humiliation, fasting, sacraments, all imply that we are gross and carnal. All this will have no place in heaven. In heaven there will be no faith, no hope, no prayer, no patience. In heaven there will be neither humiliation, nor fasting, nor sacraments. Charity rising out of love is superior to all other exercises, it hath an excellence proper to itself; love will follow us to heaven, and heaven is the abode of love. There God, who is love, establisheth his empire; there perfect love reigns; there is seen the ineffable love, which the Father hath for his Son; there is found that incomprehensible union, which unites the three divine persons, who are the object of our worship; there Jesus Christ, our mystical head, unites himself with his members; there is displayed the love of God to glorified saints, with whom he shares his felicity and glory; there the love of glorified saints to God is made manifest; there are seen those tenter ties which unite the inhabitants of heaven to each other, hearts aiming at the same end, burning with the same fire, enlivened with the same

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alms deeds to persist in sin. An unjust man, who retains the property of otbers, will give a trifle to the poor, and, under pretence that charity covereth a multitude of sins, will hold himself free from the law of restitution. A debauchee will give alms, and, under pretence that charity covereth a multitude of sins, will think himself authorized to lead an unclean life. Great God! is this the idea we form of thy majesty! If these be the motives of our virtues, whence do our vices spring ? Shall we pretend with presents to blind thine eyes, eyes of purity itself! Would we make thee, O God! an accomplice in our crimes, and have we forgot that prohibition so remarkable in thy law, thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog into the house of the Lord ? Deut. xxiii. 18. It is, however, very certain that charity disarms death, in regard to that account, which we are about to give of the manner, in which we have disposed of our property, for charity is the least equivocal mark of our christianity; and the least suspicious evidence of our faith.

I do not know, whether in the perfect enjoyment of health and the pleasures of life, you enter into these reflections : but when you

think

yourselves ready to expire, you implore our assistance, and require us to comfort you. We seldom succeed much on these occasions. Miserable comforters are we all. Religion with all its evidences, grace with all its charms, the promises of the gospel with all their maguificence, are generally insufficient to administer consolation. Christians, you must certainly die, arm us then to-day against yourselves. Put into our hands to-day an argument against that fear of death, wbich will shortly seize you. Give weight to our ministry, and hy disarming death by your charities, put us into a condition to shew you death disarmed at the end of

your life.

4. Charity provides against the terrors, with which an apprehension of the last judgment ought to inspire us. Jesus Christ hath furnished us with this idea, for thus he speaks in the twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew, When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, he shall say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me, ver. 32, &c.

This is another of the passages, of which we just now spoke, and which ought to be understood in a sense altogether sublime. Jesus Christ personates the poor, and takes on himself, if I may speak so, all their obligations. conduct? If the poor be so dear to him, why does he leave them to suffer; and if he leave them to suffer, why does he say they are so dear to him! My brethren, this is intended to exercise our faith, and to purify our love. Should Christ come to us in pomp and glory, surrounded with devouring fire, with all the ensigns of his majesty, attended by seraphims, and by thousand thousands ministering unto him; should he come in this manner to ask of us a cup of water, a piece of bread, a little money, which of us would refuse to grant his request? But this mark of our love would be suspicious. It would proceed from emotions excited by the splendor of his majesty, rather than from genuine love. No wonder a king is respected in his court, and upon his throne, Majesty dazzles, and ensigns of supreme dignity excite emotions in all the powers

of our souls. But should this king survive some disgrace, should he be banished from his kingdom, and abandoned by his subjects, then his real friends would be discovered, and he would prepare them a thousand rewards. This is an image of Jesus Christ. In vain prostrating ourselves at the foot of his throne we say to him a thousand times over, Lord thou knowest that we love thee. Pehaps this profession of esteem may proceed more from a love of the benefits than of the benefactor, who bestows them. Banished from his heavenly court in the persons of his members, forsaken by his subjects, covered with rags, and lodged in an hospital, he comes to try his real friends, solicits their compassion, presents his miseries to them, and tells them at the same time, that his condition will not be always thus despicable, and that he shall be soon re-established on his throne, and that then he will recompense their çare with eternal felicity; this is the meaning of the words just now read, I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. Grand motive to charity! Immense weight with a soul the least animated with ingenuousness and fervor ! I am not surprised, however, that motives so strong in themselves are frequently ineffectual with us. Always confined in a sphere of sensible objects, taken up with the present moment, contracted within the limits of our own small circle, we never look forward to futurity, never think of that great day, in which God will judge the world in righteousness, and fix our eternal doom. But who is there, who is there, that in the presence of all mankind, in the presence of all the angels of heaven, in the presence of the whole universe, and in the presence, of God himself, can bear this reproof from the mouth of the Son of God, I was an hungred,

and ye gave me no meat, I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink !

5. Let us consider charity in regard to heaven itself. We say benevolence is a celestial virtue, and we propose this fifth reflection to you in order to enforce the necessity, and to display the excellence of charity. Understand, my brethren, all the other virtues, which the gospel prescribes to us, are characterized by a mortification, which obliges us to enter into our nothingness, and reminds us of our turpitude and misery. They are not absolute postive excellencies, they are remedies for our ills. For example, faith supposes our ignorance; hope supposes poverty ; patience implies afflictions; repentance supposes sin. All public worship, prayer, humiliation, fasting, sacraments, all imply that we are gross and carnal. All this will have no place in heaven. In heaven there will be no faith, no hope, no prayer, no 'patience. In heaven there will be neither humiliation, nor fasting, nor sacraments. Charity rising out of love is superior to all other exercises, it hath an excellence proper to itself; love will follow us to heaven, and heaven is the abode of love. There God, who is love, establisheth his empire; there perfect love reigns; there is seen the ineffable love, which the Father hath for his Son; there is found that incomprehensible union, which unites the three divine persons, who are the object of our worship; there Jesus Christ, our mystical head, unites himself with his members; there is displayed the love of God to glorified saints, with whom he shares his felicity and glory; there the love of glorified saints to God is made manifest; there are seen those tenter ties which unite the inhabitants of heaven to each other, hearts aiming at the same end, burning with the same fire, enlivened with the same

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VOL. IV.

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