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ANNO superiore, ad meam prsecipue spiri- 
tualem utilitatem, conscripsi mihi ipsum, 
libellum, De Ascensione Mentis in Deum, 
per Scalas Rerum Creatarum."* Nunc, 
quoniam placet Deo senilem setatem 
meam adhuc longius aliquantulum protra- 
here, subit animum de coelesti Patria, ad 
quam anhelamus omnes filii Adam, qui 
hanc vallem mortalitatis gementes et flentes 
incolimus, aliquid meditari, et meditationes 
stilo alligare, ne pereant. Igitur in Scrip- 
turis Sanctis, quse sunt veluti Epistolse 
Consolatorise de Patria Coelesti ad exilium 
nostrum a Patre transmissse, quatuor no- 
mina reperio, ex quibus utcunque bona 
illius Loci nobis innotescere possunt. No- 
mina sunt, Paradisus, Domus, Civitas, 
Regnum, &c. 

* Already translated. 


LAST year, for my own spiritual benefit 
especially, I composed a "Gradual to ascend 
unto God from the Contemplation of created 
objects." Now, since it hath pleased God 
to prolong my old age a little longer, I wish 
to meditate on that heavenly country to 
which all the sons of Adam ardently aspire, 
who dwell, lamenting and weeping, in this 
valley of death; and these meditations I 
desire to write, lest they perish. Where 
fore in the Holy Scriptures, which may be 
compared to "Consoling Letters" sent unto 
us in this our exile from heaven by our 
Father, I find four names mentioned, from 
which we may in a manner learn what are 
the good things of that land. The names 
are, -Paradise, Mansion, City, and a 
Kingdom. Of Paradise St. Paul speaks: 
" I know a man in Christ above fourteen 

years ago such an one rapt even to 

the third heaven that he was caught up 

into paradise," &c. Of the "Mansion" 


the Son of God himself speaks : " In my 
Father s house there are many mansions." 
Of the "City" St. Paul speaks in his Epistle 
to the Hebrew*: "But you are come to 
Mount Sion and the city of the living God, 
the heavenly Jerusalem." Of the " King 
dom" there is mention made in St. Mat 
thew: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for 
theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This 
name is continually occurring in the Holy 
Scripture. The abode of the saints in heaven 
is called a "Paradise," because it is a most 
beautiful place, abounding in delights. But 
because men might suppose that paradise 
was a garden placed near a house, which 
could contain but few people, the Holy Spirit 
.has added the name, " House," because 
it is a royal mansion, a great palace, where 
in, besides a garden, there are halls, couches, 
and many other excellent things. But 
because a house, however large, cannot 
contain many people, and lest we should 
think that very few will possess eternal life, 
the Scripture adds the word "City," which 
contains many gardens and many palaces. 
But since St. John, speaking of the number 
of the blessed, saith : " After this I saw a 
great multitude which no man could num- 


ber." And as, moreover, no city can con 
tain an innumerable multitude, the word 
"Kingdom" is used, to which is added, 
"the kingdom of heaven/ than which no 
place in the whole universe is more bound 
less and extensive. 

But, again, since in a most extensive 
kingdom there are many who never see 
each other, nor know their names, nor 
whether they ever existed ; and since it is 
certain that all the blessed behold each 
other, and know each other, and converse 
familiarly with one another as friends and 
relations : therefore the Scriptures, not con 
tent with the name of "Kingdom," added 
that of a " City," that we might know its 
inhabitants are truly citizens of the saints, 
and as familiar, and as closely united 
together, as the inhabitants of the very 
smallest city. But, in order that we might 
likewise remember, that these happy men 
are not only citizens of the saints, but 
also friends of God, therefore the Holy 
Spirit calls that a " House," which it also 
named a " City." In fine, because all the 
blessed in heaven abound in delights, it is 
likewise called " Paradise." Hence these 
four words Kingdom, House, City, Para- 


dise mean one and the same tiling ; and 
the Paradise is so extensive, that it can 
truly be called a House, City, and King 
dom. Wherefore, concerning this most 
blessed place I will first, under the word 
" Kingdom ; then under that of a "City ;" 
afterwards under that of a "House ;" arid, 
lastly, under the word "Paradise" meditate 
in the chamber of my heart; and, with 
God s assistance, commit to writing what 
He shall please to suggest unto me. 



BOOK 1. 


PREFATIO, . , .- . . . iii 
Preface, . . . - . v 

1. The Extent of the Kingdom of God, . 1 

2. The Inhabitants of the Kingdom of God, 5 

3. The Monarchial Form of the Kingdom of 
God, 10 

4. All the Blessed are Kings, . . .13 

5. The Happiness enjoyed in the Kingdom of 
God, 20 

6. What importance men attach to Earthly 
Kingdoms, and what importance ought to 

be attached to the Kingdom of Heaven, . 28 

7. The First Means of attaining the King 
dom of God, 34 

8. The Second Means of attaining the King 
dom of God, . 37 

9. The Third Means of attaining the King 
dom of God, ... . . 41 

10. The Fourth Means of attaining the King 
dom of God, ... . .45 




1 On the Beaut j of the City of God, . 51 

2. On the Concord and Peace of the City of 
God, . . .... .... 54 

3. On the Liberty of the City of God, . 57 

4. On the Situation and Form of the City of 
God, .62 

5. On the Foundations and Gates of the 
City of God, .... . 65 

6. On the Walls and Streets of the City of 
God, 70 

7. On the Temple of the City of God, . 73 

8. On the Meat and Drink in the City of 
God, ....... 77 

9. On the Mystical Foundation of the City 

of God, ... ..". . . 82 

10. On the Mystical Gate of the City of 
God, 85 

11. On the Mystical Stones of the City of 
God, . . . ; . ... 89 

12. On Flying from the City of this World, 97 


1. All the Blessed are the familiar Sons of 
God, 104: 

2. The Magnitude and Beauty of the House 

of God, . . ^ /. 107 



3. The Chambers in the House of God, 111 

4. On the Couches in the House of God, 113 

5. On the Courts of the House of God, 118 

6. On the First Gate of the House of God, 
which is Faith, 121 

7. On Hope, which is the Second Gate of the 
House of God, .-. -- ;- -"-. ^ . .126 

8. On Charity, which is the Third Gate, 130 

9. On Humility, which is the Fourth Gate, 134 

10. More Considerations on Faith, , . 139 

11. More Considerations on Hope, . .142 

12. Other Considerations on Charity, . 144 

13. Other Considerations on Humility, . 147 

14. The Necessity of entering this Gate, 
however narrow, if we wish to be Saved. 149 


1. True Joy is to be found in Heaven, . 152 

2. On the Joy of the Understanding, . 155 

3. On the Joy of the Will, . . . .161 

4. On the Joy of the Memory, . . 164 

5. On the Joy of the Eyes, . . .168 

6. On the Joy of the Ears, . . . 171 

7. On the Joy of the Nostrils, . . .174 

8. On the Joy the Senses of Touch and Taste 
will have, ...... 175 

9. The Joys of Heaven compared with those 

of Earth, , . . , . . 178 



1,0. The Earthly and Heavenly Paradise com 
pared, 182 

11. The Goods of this World, and those of the 
Earthly Paradise, compared with the Joys 

of the Heavenly Paradise, . . . . 186 

12. On the Price that Paradise was purchased 

at, compared with Paradise itself, . 188 


1. On the Treasure hidden in a Field, . 193 

2. On the precious Pearl, . .,! . 200 

3. The Labourers in the Vineyard, , . 206 

4. On the Talents, ; . > . . . 214 

5. The Parable of the Supper, . . 225 

6. The Parable of the Wise and Foolish 
Virgins, . . . . > 234 

7. On the Prize, ... .244 

8. On the Crown, .... 253 








WE may learn How important is a know 
ledge of the kingdom of heaven from this 
circumstance, that Christ^ our heavenly 
Master, began His preaching with these 
words : " Do penance, for the kingdom of 
heaven is at hand." He also delivered 
nearly all His parables concerning the king 
dom of heaven, saying, " The kingdom of 
heaven is likened/ &c. And after His 
resurrection, during the forty days before 
His ascension, appearing to His disciples, 
He spoke to them of the kingdom of 
God, as St. Luke mentions in the Acts 


of the Apostles. This kingdom therefore 
formed the beginning, continuation, and 
end of the discourses of Christ. But 
I do not intend to enter upon all the 
points connected with heaven, but only to 
explain those that relate to the " place and 
state" of the Blessed. In the first place, 1 
will endeavour to show why the " habita 
tion" of the blessed is called the "kingdom 
of heaven" in the Holy Scriptures. 

The habitation of the saints is called a 
kingdom for many reasons. First, because 
it is a land the boundless extent of which 
cannot be conceived by human imagination. 
This earth, though but a point, as it were, 
in comparison with heaven, contains many 
and great kingdoms that can scarcely be 
numbered : how great, therefore, must that 
"one kingdom" be, which extends through 
out the length and breadth of the heaven of 
heavens ! But the kingdom of heaven does 
not only include the heavenly region, but 
also the whole extent of it. This heavenly 
country, which is properly called the king 
dom of heaven, is the first "province," as 
it were, of the kingdom of God, in which 
the highest princes reside, who^ are all the 
sons of God. The second province may be 
called setherial, in which the stars dwell ; all 
of which, though not animate, yet are so 
obedient to the voice of their Creator, that 
they may be said to be living creatures, 
according to Ecclesiasticus, " Come, let us 
adore the King, for whom all things live/ 


The third province is aerial, in which winds 
and clouds pass, and storms, rain, snow, 
hail, thunder, and lightning are produced, 
and where birds of various kinds sport and 
fly. The fourth province is watery, and 
contains seas, fountains, and lakes, in 
which fishes multiply, " that pass through 
the paths of the sea."* The fifth is 
earthly, which, emulous as it were of 
heaven, contains the most noble inhabi 
tants, but not the most blessed I mean 
men, endowed with reason, but mortal; 
these have dominion over the beasts of the 
earth and the fishes of the sea. The last 
province is subterraneous, which, like the 
desert of Arabia, produces no good fruit 
whatever, but only thorns and briars ; there 
wicked spirits dwell on account of their 
pride ; they wished to be the first, but they 
became last they strove to exalt their throne 
above the stars of heaven, but they were 
cast down to the lowest hell. And here, 
also, those will be confined, who, having 
imitated the wickedness of those bad spirits, 
die without true repentance. Now, all 
these provinces God rules by His power, of 
whom the Psalmist speaks, " All things 
serve Thee/ This vast and mighty king 
dom God will share with those that love 

Wherefore, Christian soul, rejoice, and 
be not confined within the narrow limits of 
things present. Why dost thou labour and 
toil so much, merely to gain a small part of 


this world, whilst, if thou wish, thou canst 
possess the whole? Truly, if men would 
seriously aspire after this kingdom, if they 
would attentively meditate upon it, they 
would blush to wage war for such narrow 
portions of the earth. man ! God offers 
thee the possession of His immense and 
eternal kingdom,, whilst thou fightest for 
one small city, wherein many crimes are 
committed, and other innumerable sins, 
by which the King of Kings is justly 
provoked to anger. Where is thy pru 
dence? where thy judgment? But 1 do 
not speak in this manner as if I supposed, 
that it was unlawful for Christians to 
enter into war for the defence of their 
cities. I know that just wars are allowed, 
not only by the holy Fathers, (especially 
St. Austin and St. Thomas, the prince of 
scholastic writers,) but also by the precur 
sor of pur Lord "greater than whom hath 
not arisen amongst those born of woman/ 
Pie said to^the soldiers^ not that they should 
desert their service as being unlawful, but 
that, being content with their pay, they 
should " do violence to no man/ 5 "" In my 
"Controversies" I have also defended just 
wars. I dp not therefore speak against war 
simply in itself; but I exhort you to follow 
that which is more perfect, and often more 
useful, according to what St. Paul says to 
the Corinthians : "Already indeed there is 
plainly a fault among you, that you have 

* St. Luke, iii. 14. 


lawsuits one with another. Why do you 
not rather hate wrong ? Why do you not 
rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" 
(1 Epist. to Corinthians v. 7.) And^St. 
James adds in his Epistle : " From whence 
are wars and contentions among you ? Are 
they not hence from your concupiscence? 
You covet, and have not: you kill, and 
envy, and cannot obtain. You contend 
and war, and have not, because you ask 
not." (chap, iv.) Whoever earnestly aspires 
after the kingdom of heaven, would not 
easily be moved to war by the loss of one 
city ; but he would seek after those who 
could settle the dispute without expense 
and danger. But let us proceed to other 



THE kingdom of heaven is called a 
" Habitation/ because it contains such a 
multitude of different inhabitants ; no palace 
or city, but only large kingdoms contain 
such numbers. There, as St. Paul tells us 
in his Epistle to the Hebrews, are many 
thousands of angels ; there also are " the 
spirits of the Just made perfect," to whom 
belong all who have departed in the Lord 
from Abel, even to the last good man that 
will die at the end of the world. But not 


only will the souls of the Just be there, but 
also their glorious bodies, each of which 
shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of 
their Father, as our Lord assures us in St. 
Matthew. With regard to the angels, we 
who live on this earth scarcely know any 
thing of them but their names. * We learn 
from the vision of the prophet Isaias, 
(chap, vi.) that some are called Seraphim, 
and others Cherubim :f some Thrones, 
others Dominations : some Principalities, 
others Powers, as St. Paul mentions in his 
Epistle to the Colossians: (chap. i. ver. 16.) 
in his Epistle to the Ephesians he also 
speaks of "Virtues," and in another place, 
Archangels are spoken of: Angels are 
finally ranked amongst them, of whom there 
is so frequent mention throughout the 
Holy Scriptures. From these nine names, 
it is the unanimous opinion of learned 
doctors, that there are nine " orders" of 
angels, each of which contains many thou 
sands, according to the prophet Daniel: 
" Thousands of thousands ministered to 
him, and ten thousand times a hundred 
thousand stood before him." (chap. vii. 10.) 
And Job asks : " Is there any numbering 
of his soldiers?" 

But although all the angels are doubtless 
most happy, and wonderfully resplendent 

* See Alban Butler, Sept. 29th, on St. Michael, 
f These are two pure Hebrew words; the first means " to 
burn, or burn up;" the second, " to be like the Most High; * 
(Vide Geseiiius Diet, in Voce, translated by Leo.) 


with the glory of every divine gift, yet those 
are called " Seraphim" who burn with the 
flames of love : the others " Cherubim" who 
shine with the splendour of knowledge : 
those are named " Thrones" who enjoy an 
inexpressible tranquillity in the divine con 
templation: those "Dominations" who rule 
this lower world, as the ministers of a 
mighty commander: others "Powers," 
because they do signs and wonders by the 
command of their Almighty Lord : others 
" Principalities," because they have power 
over the kings and princes of the world : 
some again are named "Archangels," be 
cause they assist the prelates of the Church: 
and many, in fine, are called " Angels," 
since they are the guardians and protectors 
of all that live upon the earth. But these 
are not the only significations of the names 
of the angels:"" they are also images or 
representations of the greatness of God: 
thus the seraphim, by their burning love, 
represent as it were in a glass, the infinite 
love of God which alone induced Him to 
create the angels, man, and all other crea 
tures, whom He still preserves. The che 
rubim in like manner represent the infinite 
wisdom of God, which hath regulated all 
things by number, weight, and measure. 
The thrones also, by a perfect image as it 
were, show us that profound " rest" which 
God enjoys on His throne ; who, whilst all 

* See the work on the " Heavenly Hierarchy," ascribed 
by some to St. Diouysius the Areopagite. 


tilings are in motion, remains unalterable, 
tranquilly ruling and directing events. The 
dominations too tell us, that it is God who 
alone truly rules all things, because He 
alone can either preserve them, or anni 
hilate them. The virtues convince us, that 
itjs God "who alone doth wonderful 
things/ and who hath reserved to himself 
alone to renew signs, and to multiply won 
ders. The powers signify by their name, 
that God alone is absolutely and truly 
powerful, to whom nothing is impossible, 
because in Him alone true power resides. 
The principalities signify, that God is the 
Prince over the kings of the earth, the 
King of kings, and Lord of lords. The arch 
angels signify, that God is the true High 
Priest of all the churches. The angels, 
that God is the true Father of orphans ; 
and that although He hath given His angels 
to be our guardians, He himself is present 
with each one, to guard and protect him. 
The prophet who has said, " He hath given 
his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in 
all thy ways," introduces the Almighty 
thus speaking : "I am with him in tribu 
lation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify 
him." (Psalm xc.) And our Lord, who had 
said, " their angels in heaven always see 
the face of my Father who is in heaven/* 
has also added: "Are not two sparrows 
sold for a farthing ; and not one of them 
shall fall upon the ground without your 
Father. But the very hairs of your head 


are all numbered. Fear not therefore; 
better are you than many sparrows." (St. 
Matthew, chap. x. 29, &c.) Such are the 
few points that we know about the angels, 
concerning whom you may read St. Ber 
nard on " Consideration/ " from whom I 
have taken these details. 

With these nine orders of the angels, 
correspond on the other hand that multi 
tude of holy men, which no one can num 
ber, as we learn from the Apocalypse. This 
multitude contains also nine "orders ;" for 
some are patriarchs, some prophets, some 
apostles, some martyrs and confessors; 
whilst others are pastors, doctors, priests, 
Levites, monks, and hermits, holy women, 
virgins, widows, or married people. Where 
fore, my soul, I beseech thee to consider 
what great happiness it will be, to be 
united with such great saints ! St. Jerome 
mentions,! that he visited many provinces, 
and many people, and crossed many seas, 
that he might see and hear those celebrated 
men, whom he had known by their works. 
Queen of Saba came from the ends of the 
earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon ; and 
to St. Antony, the hermit, men hastened 
from all parts, being moved by the fame of 
his sanctity: even Emperors themselves 
courted his friendship. But what will it 
be to behold hereafter so many angels, so 

* Lib. v. 
f Epistola ad Paulinum. 


many just men, to be united with them in 
the closest friendship, and to be made par 
takers of their happiness? Were we to 
behold, in this our exile, one angel arrayed 
in all his beauty, who would not eagerly 
wish to meet him ? What therefore must it 
be, to behold all the angels in one place ? 
And if only one of the prophets, apostles, 
or doctors of the Church were to descend 
from heaven, with what curiosity and atten 
tion would he be heard ! Now in the 
kingdom of God, we shall be allowed to 
behold not one only, but all the prophets, 
apostles, and doctors, with whom we shall 
continually hold sweet converse. How 
greatly does the sun rejoice the whole earth: 
but what will be the glory from innumerable 
Suns in the kingdom of God, all animate, 
intelligent, and exulting in their joy ! This 
union with the angels and men, all of whom 
are most wise and excellent, appears to me 
so delightful, that I consider it alone will 
be a great happiness, and on this account, 
would willingly be deprived of all the plea 
sures of this life. 



THE third reason why it is called a 
" Kingdom" is, because there alone is to be 
found a perfect form of government. There 


is this difference between a kingdom and a 
republic : in the former the supreme power 
is possessed by one person : in the latter it 
is divided amongst many. Bat in the 
kingdoms of this world, supreme power in 
the true and proper sense of the word, 
cannot exist. For although a king, without 
the advice or consent of others, can com 
mand something to be done ; yet it cannot 
be accomplished without the approbation of 
his subjects. It even often happens that 
he cannot give a command, or at least will 
not dare to do so, should all his subjects be 
against him. How many great kings and 
emperors have there been, who were either 
deserted by their army, or put to death ! 
History is full of such examples. Supreme 
power therefore is useless to the kings of 
this world, because they can never execute 
any thing, unless their subjects approve of 
it. But the power of God, who is truly 
and essentially King of kings, dependeth 
upon no one, but His own will : and since 
He is omnipotent, He can do all things ; 
neither doth He stand in need of soldiers, 
arms, or any external aid. And when He 
makes use of the ministration of angels, 
men, or even inanimate things, He does so 
because He wills, not because he requires 
them. For He who without any assistance 
made heaven and earth, and all things 
therein, by His only word, and who pre 
serves them by His will, can also govern 
them by His power alone. But God reigus 


in the truest sense of the word, not only 
because He possesses supreme power ; but 
also because He alone knows how to govern: 
He stands not in need of any council, or 
ministers of state. Who hath known 
the mind of the Lord? or who hath been 
his counsellor?" says St. Paul: and be 
fore him the prophet ^ Isaias : Who 
hath forwarded the Spirit of the Lord? 
or who hath been his counsellor, and 
hath taught him? With ^ whom hath he 
consulted, and who hath instructed him, 
and taught him the path of justice, and 
taught him knowledge, and showed him 
the way of understanding?" (chap. xl. 13, 
14;) Wherefore a monarchy, which is the 
best form of government, is to be found in 
God alone in its true and perfect nature. 
He is not only " terrible over all the king? 
of the earth," as it is said in the Psalms; 
but He is also " King above all gods," 
as it is expressed in another place. Others 
are false gods or rather devils, according 
the prophet : " All the gods of the Gentiles 
are devils." (Psalm xcv.) Some are gods 
by participation, as the kings of the earth 
and the angels of heaven, thus " I have 
said : You are gods and all of you the sons 
of the Most High." (Psalm Ixxxi.) But 
all these gods are under the power of that 
God, who reigneth in heaven : He alone 
then is truly a great king. This Nabu- 
chodonosor, king of Babylon, acknow 
ledged in these words, after he had suffered 


a most severe punishment for his pride: 
" Now at the end of the days, I Nab itch o- 
donosor lifted up my eyes to heaven, and 
my sense was restored to me : and I 
blessed the most High, and I praised and 

florified Him that liveth for ever : for his 
ingdorn is an everlasting power, and his 
kingdom is to all generations. And all the 
inhabitants of the earth are reputed as 
nothing before him : for He doth according 
to his will, as well with the powers of 
heaven, as among the inhabitants of the 
earth : and there is none that can resist His 
hand, and say to him: Why hast thou 
done it?" (Daniel, chap. iv. 31, &c.) Thus 
he spoke, giving us all an example to 
humble ourselves under the powerful hand 
of God, as St. Peter admonishes us : and 
to be more delighted with serving the King 
of kings, that we may experience His good 
ness, than proudly to resist His will, lest we 
be forced to feel the weight of His avenging 



THE fourth reason (and a very powerful 
one) why heaven is called a kingdom is 
because all the Blessed in heaven are kings, 
and all the conditions of being such most 
aptly apply to them. For although the saints 


in heaven serve God, as it is mentioned in the 
Apocalypse, yet at the same time they reign 
also ; for in the same book, and in the 
same chapter, where it is said, " His ser 
vants shall serve Him/ a little lower we 
are told that " They shall reign for ever 
and ever." (chap, xxii.) But all the Bless 
ed will not only serve and reign at the 
same time ; they will also be called servants 
and sons. Thus God speaks in the Apoca 
lypse : " He that shall overcome shall pos 
sess these things, and I will be his God, 
and he shall be my son." (chap. xxi. 7.) 
Wherefore, as they can be both servants 
and sons, so also they can be both servants 
and kings ; they are servants because they 
were created by God, to whom they owe 
obedience, and from whom they receive 
their being, and all things else ; and 
David makes no exception when he says: 
"All creatures serve him." They are also 
the sons of God, since they were born of 
God by water and the Holy Spirit ; they 
are kings, too, because they have received 
the dignity from the King of kings, who is 
called by this name in the Apocalypse, 
" King of kings, and Lord of lords." (chap. 
xix. 16.) 

t But it may perhaps be said, that it is not 
difficult for one to be both a king of the earth, 
and a servant of God, for thus the Psalmist 
speaks : And now, ye kings, under 
stand, receive instruction, you that judge 
the earth. Serve ye the Lord with fear : and 


rejoice unto him with trembling." (Ps. ii.) 
But to be a king in the kingdom of heaven, 
and a servant of the King of heaven who 
can understand or comprehend this ? And 
yet such is the truth, which faith believes 
and understands. The just, therefore, will 
also be kings in the kingdom of heaven, 
because they will be made partakers of the 
royal dignity, and power, and riches, &c., 
of that kingdom. This is what the Holy 
Spirit clearly teaches us, especially in 
three passages from the Scripture ; the 
first of which occurs ^in St. Matthew: 
" Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs 
is the kingdom of heaven/ (chap, v.) In 
another part: " Come, ye blessed of my 
Father, possess you the kingdom prepared 
for you from the foundation of the world." 
(St. Matthew, chap, xxv.) The third pas 
sage is from the Apocalypse : To him 
that shall overcome I will give to sit with 
me on my throne : as I also have overcome, 
and have sat down with my Father in His 
throne." (chap, iii.) What can be clearer 
than these words ? The kingdom of heaven 
is promised the possession of it will be 
given to us at the last day we shall have 
a seat on the royal throne of the Son of 
God, and of His Father, our eternal King: 
what is this but a participation of the same 
kingdom, which God possesses from eter 
nity? St. Paul also adds his testimony : 
"If we suffer, we shall reign with Him;" 
and St. John likewise, in the beginning of 


the Apocalypse: "I, John, your brother, 
and your partner in tribulation, and in the 
kingdom/ &c. And St. James, in his 
Epistle : " Hath not God chosen the poor 
in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the 
kingdom which God hath promised to them 
that love Him?" (chap. ii. 5.) But the 
kingdom of heaven is not lessened, because 
it is divided amongst innumerable angels 
and men. This kingdom is not like the 
kingdoms of the world, which cannot well 
be divided ; but should they be distributed 
into parts, the division weakens them, and 
at length they are destroyed. But not so 
with the kingdom above, which is perfectly 
possessed by all, and wholly by each one, 
just as the sun is seen by all and each of 
the inhabitants of earth, whom it equally 
enlightens and vivifies. But this point will 
be more easily understood when we explain 
the good things that are to be found in the 
kingdom of heaven. We must now dwell 
on the conditions or qualities which are re 
quired in kings, so that we may be con 
vinced the saints and blessed spirits can 
justly be called the Kings of the kingdom of 

There are two qualities especially neces 
sary for kings -wisdom and justice. But 
with wisdom the Scripture joins prudence 
and counsel, and all other things that relate 
to intelligence ; with justice are united 
mercy, clemency, and other virtues that 
adorn and perfect the will. Wisdom., there- 


fore, is required that the king may have 
knowledge ; justice, that he may govern his 
subjects with equity. On this account, 
Solomon, in the beginning of his reign, 
being admonished by God to ask for what 
he wished, asked for wisdom, which is the 
chief of all the virtues required in kings. 
His petition was acceptable before God, as 
we read in the third Book of Kings, and 
therefore he obtained what he prayed for. 
Would that he had asked for justice also : 
perhaps he would not then have fallen into 
so many crimes. But more justly does 
David speak in that psalm, where he prays 
for blessings on Solomon his son : " Give 
to the king thy judgment, God ; and to 
the king s son thy justice." (Psalm Ixxi.) 
From these words it appears that he fore 
saw Solomon would ask for wisdom, and 
therefore David prayed that "justice and 
judgment" might be given to him, which 
without wisdom cannot exist, although wis 
dom, though but imperfectly, may exist 
without justice. The Book of Wisdom, 
which was written for the instruction of 
kings, thus speaks : " Love justice, you 
that are judges of the earth." (chap, i.) It 
commences from "justice," because it is 
not only in itself necessary for kings, but 
also because it disposes us to receive wis 
dom. Thus, a little lower, it adds : " For 
wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, 
nor dwell in a body subject to sin." In 
fine, Jeremias, foretelling the virtues of 



Christ, the eternal King says : " Behold, 
the days come, saith the Lord, and I will 
raise up to David a just branch: and a 
king shall reign and be wise, and shall 
execute judgment and justice in the earth/ 
(chap, xxiii. 5.) Truly, therefore, are "wis 
dom and justice required in kings." 

Now every one must acknowledge, that 
all the blessed in heaven, though they may 
have been whilst on earth simple and igno 
rant, are now possessed of the deepest wis 
dom, and so eminently endowed with the 
virtue of justice, that they might justly 
become kings of any kingdom. For all 
the blessed behold the very essence of God 
Himself, which is the " first cause" of all 
things ; and thereby, from this fountain of 
uncreated wisdom, they drink in such wis 
dom as neither Solomon nor any other 
mortal possessed, except our Lord Jesus 
Christ, who, even during the time of His 
mortal life, saw God, for in Him "were hid 
all the treasures of wisdom and know 
ledge. " But, besides the wisdom which 
the blessed possess, there is also given 
to them a full measure of justice, so that 
they can never sin, nor even wish to sin ; 
thus St. Augustin speaks:* The first 
liberty of the Will was, to be able not to 
commit sin, but the last will be much 
greater, not to be able to sin." But he 
who cannot commit sin, cannot be unjust ; 
and since perfect charity is the same as 

* Liber de Correptione et Gratia, cap. 12. 


perfect justice, as St. Augustine asserts,* 
he who loves not God with the greatest and 
most perfect love, cannot possess the perfect 
justice. Now, they who behold God that 
infinite and pure Being cannot certainly 
turn away from Him, but they must ever 
love Him with the most ardent love ; whence 
it follows, that all the saints in heaven are 
perfectly wise, perfectly just, and therefore 
most proper to reign. 

Arise then, my soul, and as far as possi 
ble consider, what happiness it will be to 
reign with God ! And thus -to omit other 
considerations penetrate heaven .itself on 
the wings of contemplation, and behold 
that glorious throne of which our Saviour 
speaks: "To him that shall overcome, I 
will give to sit with me on my throne, as 1 
also have overcome, and have sat down 
with my Father in His throne/ (Apoc. 
ohap. iii, 21.) How great will the glory be 
for that just soul to be placed with such an 
infinite multitude of angels, on the very 
throne of Christ and of God ! And by His 
just judgment to be proclaimed a conqueror 
over the world, and the rulers thereof, and 
all invisible powers ! And how will this soul 
exult with gladness, when, delivered from 
every toil and danger, she shall behold herself 
gloriously triumphant over all her enemies ! 
What more will she desire, when she shall 
be made a partaker of all the gifts of her 
Lord, even of a participation of His throne 

* Lib. de Natura et Gratia, (cap. ult.) 


and Kingdom ? Oh, how zealously do they 
fight on earth, and with what patience do 
they bear all things for the love of Christ, 
who, with a lively faith and a sure hope, 
contemplate such divine honours in hea 
ven ! 



THE fifth reason, it appears to me, why 
heaven is called a kingdom is, because the 
good things enjoyed by the blessed seem 
something like those possessed by the kings 
of the earth ; but they are so much greater 
and more excellent as heaven is superior to 
earth. Wherefore, the kingdom that is 
prepared for the blessed is not simply call 
ed a " kingdom/ but the "kingdom of 
heaven," that so we may understand the 
difference between the pleasures of each 
the one being limited, base, mean, and 
temporal ; whilst the others are boundless, 
noble, spiritual, and above all, eternal. 
The goods of an earthly kingdom are con 
sidered to be, power, honour, riches, and 
pleasures. An earthly monarch can com 
mand his subjects ; and if they obey him 
not, he can imprison them, banish them, 
fine them, scourge them, or put them to 
death. Hence kings are feared by the 
people, for they appear, as it were, to be 


gods. Again, kings wish to be honoured 
with almost a supernatural veneration, by 
the knee being bent before them, as if in 
adoration ; and often they will not deign to 
listen to us, unless we bow down to the 
earth ; and whenever they appear in public, 
they wish every one to make way for them. 
In addition to this, they require a large 
"exchequer," full of gold and silver; 
neither do they count their money by hun 
dreds or thousands of pounds, but by ten 
hundred thousands ; and with reason, since 
they are obliged to support, not ten or 
twenty servants, but to lead whole armies 
forth against their enemies. Lastly, they 
do not condescend to indulge in ordinary 
amusements, but only in those which they 
suppose become their royal majesty such 
as banquets, hunting, and the theatre on 
which they squander immense sums of 
money. Now these are the chief pleasures 
which earthly princes possess ; and all of 
them are short and fading, since they begin 
with life, and end in death ; unless it should 
sometime happen, that their life was of 
longer continuance than their kingdom. 
But, moreover, these pleasures are not pure, 
because power is joined with infirmity, 
honour with ignominy, riches with poverty, 
and joy with sorrow and affliction. The 
power of a prince is such, that the people 
should depend on the will of their prince ; 
but power is infirm, because the prince de 
pends on the strength and resources of his 


people. What can a king do in capturing 1 
or defending a city, if the people are either 
unwilling or unable to assist him ? But a 
prince depends not only on the resources of 
his subjects, but also on walls, fortifications, 
arms, engines of war, and "money/ which 
is called the nerves of war. Wherefore the 
people depend on the pleasure of their 
prince, and serve him alone ; the prince, on 
the contrary, depends on many men and 
many things, all of which he is obliged to 
employ. In fine, a king can imprison, 
banish, or put to death his subjects; but a 
king also (I speak de facto, not de jure) can 
be imprisoned, banished, &c. f Julius Csesar, 
Caius, Nero, Galba, Yitellius, Domitian, 
Commodus, Heliogabalus, &c., afford ex 
amples of this truth. And not only these 
who were so wicked, but also those of much 
milder dispositions, such as Alexander 
Mammssas, Grordianus the younger, Perti- 
nax, Tacitus, Numerianus, Probus, Gra- 
tian, Valentinian the second, not to mention 
St. Edward the Confessor, St. Wenceslaus, 
king of Bohemia, St. Sigismund, king of 
Burgundy, St. Canute, king of Denmark, 
&c. Let us now speak of their honours. 
Whilst kings are present before others, they 
are certainly honoured and respected ; but 
when absent, they are often ridiculed and 
spoken against : even when present, many 
praise them with their lips, whilst they de 
spise them with their heart, so that, if the 
number of those that praise them and those 


that revile them could be counted, the lat 
ter would be founi more numerous than the 
former. Truly, therefore, the ignominy of 
kings is often greater than their glory, since 
few are those who honour their dignity 
when present, but many accuse them when 
absent of avarice, and others of cruelty, 
others of luxury, &c. 

^But perhaps the riches of kings are pure, 
without any admixture of poverty. No,^ for 
none are so poor as kings ; they have im 
mense incomes and great treasures, but 
their debts and expenses are much greater. 
He that possesseth little is not so poor as 
one who desireth many things, because he 
stands in need of them. And is it not a 
great proof of poverty when kings beg a 
mite, as it were, from the poor themselves, 
by exacting as taxes what is necessary for 
their support? I do not speak thus as if I 
wished to blame the exaction of tributes, for 
I know it is just they should be paid to 
kings, according to what St. Paul says in his 
Epistle to the Romans : " Wherefore be 
subject not only for wrath, but also for 
conscience 7 sake. For therefore, also, 
you pay tribute. For they are the minis 
ters of God, serving unto this purpose. 
Render therefore to all men their dues. 
Tribute to whom tribute is due, ^ custom 
to whom custom/ <fcc. (chap, xiii.) But 
I merely wished to show the miserable con 
dition of kings, who, although they abound 
in riches, are yet compelled to collect a part 


of them from the poor and destitute. But 
what shall we say of their pleasures ? Kings 
have certainly gardens, orchards, sumptuous 
banquets, hunting, &c., and whatever else 
can amuse them; but they also have the 
gout, head-aches, complaints in the liver ; 
and what is more distressing, the most pain 
ful cares of the mind, which deprive them 
whole nights of sleep, together with suspi 
cions, fears, and anguish. If the doors of 
their chambers creak at night, they suspect 
treachery ; if an armed multitude have been 
seen, a desertion is apprehended. Thus, 
joy is mixed with sorrow, and rest interrupt 
ed by care ; this is the reason why many 
have resigned their crown, that they might 
lead a private life. But let us hear how 
St. John Chrysostom, in one of his Homi 
lies""" to the people of Antioch, speaks of the 
kings of his time : " Look not at the dia 
dem, but at the multitude of cares look 
not at the purple, but at the soul, blacker 
than the purple itself. The crown does not 
so much circle the head, as cares do the 
soul. Neither consider the troops of atten 
dants, but the multitude of troubles. For 
no private house can be found so full of 
cares as a palace : every day deaths are 
expected, but in the night one cannot tell 
how often the soul is terrified, and thinks it 
is about to depart. And all this in time of 
peace. But when a war breaks out, what 

* Horn. 66. 


can be more miserable than life ? How 
many dangers befal friends and subjects!* 
The royal pavement is always sprinkled 
with the blood of relations. If yon wish me 
to relate some facts, you will perhaps ac 
knowledge them. I will tell you some that 
happened in our own time. One king 
having suspected his wife of adultery 
already the mother of many kings, bound 
her naked, and delivered her to the beasts 
of the mountain. What a life do you sup 
pose he must have led? He would not 
surely have taken such a terrible revenge, 
unless he had been consumed by some dis 
ease. This same person murdered his own 
son also, but being seized, he destroyed 
himself. After this, another was taken 
away by poison ; and his son, although he 
had done no injury, was deprived of his sight 
for fear of the future consequences. Ano 
ther (but I cannot mention his name) ended 
his life very miserably ; he was burned to 
death with his chariots and horses, &c. No 
one can express the sorrows he was obliged 
to endure, when he came to the throne. 
And the present king who now rules, when 
he was crowned with the diadem, did he 
not begin to be surrounded with toil, dan 
ger, sorrow, and treachery ? But such is 
not the state of the kingdom of heaven." * 
How truly this great saint hath said, "Such 

* Not haying the passage in Greek by me, I cannot say 
whether this translation is correct. 


is not the state of the kingdom of heaven/ 
we shall now see. 

The kings of the kingdom of heaven, 
who all live in happiness with God, possess 
power without infirmity, honour without 
ignominy, riches without poverty, pleasure 
without pain; for of them the Psalmist 
speaks : " There shall no evil come to thee : 
nor shall the scourge come near thy dwell 
ing/ (Psalm xc.) And in the Apocalypse: 
" God shall wipe away all tears from their 
eyes; and death shall be no more, nor 
mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be 
any more, for the former things are passed 
away." (ch. xxi. 4.) Wherefore exceeding 
great is the power of these heavenly kings, 
without the least admixture of infirmity. 
One angel, without an army, without 
swords and spears, instantly slew one hun 
dred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians ; 
neither was he afraid of being wounded by 
any of the soldiers. St. Gregory relates 
in his " Dialogues/ "" that a certain holy 
man, when the executor with uplifted arm 
was about to behead him, exclaimed, "St. 
John, save me !" and immediately the 
executioner could neither move nor stir 
his hand in anyway. St. John therefore 
heard the prayer of his client ; and with 
such quickness was the executioner struck, 
that the stroke, though just falling, was 
prevented. Such then is the power of the 

* Lib. iii. cap. 36. 


kings of heaven, that neither the distance 
of place, nor the situation in which this just 
but defenceless man was placed, nor the 
multitude of armed enemies, could prevent 
St. John from delivering him from instant 
death. Numerous examples of the like 
nature could be mentioned. 

The honour these heavenly kings possess 
is so great, that not only good men, but the 
wicked also, and even devils, are forced to 
respect them. Many there are who despised 
and spurned these holy men whilst they were 
upon earth ; but afterwards they honoured 
and venerated them when translated to 
heaven, especially if the Church by a public 
decree numbered them among the saints : 
and even the demons themselves, who were 
wont to harass the saints with temptations 
when living in the flesh; and even, by the 
permission of God, to beat them with many 
stripes, now fear their relics and images 
since they reign with God. What shall I 
say of the riches these kings enjoy? "Their 
great treasure is, to want nothing, because 
God is all in all/ He is not rich who pos- 
sesseth many things ; but he who desireth 
nothing, because he standeth in need of 
nothing : the soul ought to be rich, but not 
the coffers ; heaven and earth and all things 
therein, contribute to the riches of the 
saints, for what do not they possess who are 
"heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ?" 
and whom the Father hath appointed " heirs 
of all thinffs ?" 


.There now remain but the pleasures 
which the blessed enjoy in heaven : these 
are pure and sweet, without any ingredient 
of sorrow or affliction : we have already 
heard from the Apocalypse, that God will 
wipe away all tears from their eyes, and 
that sorrow and mourning will be no more. 
But on this point we shall dwell more at 
length, when we speak of Paradise. We 
have now seen, that the good things which 
the blessed and all the saints will enjoy in 
heaven together, are such, that they can in 
no way be compared with the pleasures of 
earth ; especially since the latter are tem 
porary, the former eternal. 



LET us now consider with what eager 
ness men seek after earthly kingdoms; 
though insignificant, frail, and full of care 
and trouble, that hereby we may be con 
vinced with what ardour our heavenly 
Kingdom ought to be desired and sought 
after. The passion for dominion, without 
doubt far exceeds all other passions ; for a 
kingdom is not one individual "good/ but 
a collection of all those pleasures which are 
so much prized by men. These are, power, 


honour, riches, and delights, as we have 
already seen ; there is the liberty of living 
just as we please, which is naturally pleas 
ing not only to man, but also to beasts ; 
there is excellence, and a kind of divinity 
as it were, on account of which kings have 
no equals in their government, but are supe 
rior to all, above all, and are reverenced by 
all. Hence it is, that when kings wish to 
make a promise, they can find nothing 
greater than half of their kingdom. Thus 
Assuerus addressed Esther: "What wilt 
thou, Esther? What is thy request? If 
thou should even ask one half of the king 
dom, it shall be given thee." (Esther v. 3.) 
And Herod said to Herodias: "Whatso 
ever thou shalt ask I will give it thee, 
though it be the half of my kingdom. " 
Hence it is, that to possess or extend king 
doms, men consider it lawful to throw aside 
every right; nor is there any thing so 
sacred which they will not violate for the 
sake of reigning. The very first individual 
who unjustly waged war against his friends 
and neighbours, was Ninus: he broke 
through every law, just and unjust, that he 
might enlarge his kingdom, as St. Augus 
tine* testifies. Julius Caesar was the first 
to oppress his country, which he did for the 
sake of being emperor. Maximinus the 
Thracian slew Alexander by his soldiers, 
that he might succeed to the empire, 

* De Civitate Dei, Lib. iv. cap. 6. 


although he had received from him many 
and great benefits. Philip the Arabian 
did the same also to Gordian the emperor. 
But the lust of reigning arms man, not 
only against neighbours and benefactors, 
but also against brothers, nephews, and 
even fathers. Thus Romulus killed his 
brother Remus, and Caracalla his brother 
Geta. Athalia slew all the children of 
Ochozias her son, who was king,^ that so 
she might obtain the crown. Thus the 
desires of sovereignty impels not only men, 
but also females to commit the most shock 
ing crimes. Sinochus, a Persian, contrived 
to murder his father and brother, in order 
that he alone might reign. But why do I 
mention these instances? the mother of 
Nero, when the astrologer told her that 
her son would be emperor, but that 
she would be destroyed by him, is re 
ported to have exclaimed, " Let him 
destroy me, provided he may reign !" 
Wherefore, this ambitious woman consi 
dered the kingdom to be of such impor 
tance to her son, that she preferred it to her 
own life. But this thirst for ruling not 
only makes injustice, to be justice, and 
arms man against a Brother, nephew, and 
parent, but it also violates the sacred obli 
gation of an oath, (which has always been 
considered most obligatory by every nation, 
even by the most cruel enemies,) when a 
throne is in view. If we are to give credit 


to Cicero," x " we are told that Julius Csesar 
was always accustomed to repeat these 
words of Euripides : " If an oath is to be 
violated, it may be violated for the sake of 
reigning : in other matters, cultivate piety." 
I omit innumerable other examples which 
demonstrate to all ages, that nothing what 
ever is prized more by men than a king 
dom. ; and yet, not only do kings reign but 
for a short period, but also every kingdom 
will quickly be utterly destroyed ; whilst 
the kingdom of the blessed shall alone 
remain for ever. Hear the prophet Daniel : 
" But in the days of those kingdoms, the 
God of heaven will set up a kingdom that 
shall never be destroyed, and his kingdom 
shall not be delivered up to another people; 
and it shall break in pieces, and shall con 
sume all these kingdoms, and itself shall 
stand for ever." (ch. ii. 44.) This prophecy 
will be fulfilled at the end of the world ; for 
then not only all great monarchies, but also 
small states, cities, and all the temporal 
power of princes will vanish away ; but the 
kingdom of Christ and his saints will be 
eternal, according to the words of St. 
Luke : " And of His kingdom there is no 

Now if an earthly kingdom, which passeth 
quickly away, and which is obtained but by 
few, and full of many sorrows, be so 
ardently loved, sought after, preferred be- 

* De Officiis, Lib. iii. 


fore every thing else, and acquired only by 
great dangers and bloodshed : why do so 
few love their heavenly kingdom, and so 
negligently seek after it ? And yet, if the 
Holy Scriptures are to be believed, we are 
certain that this kingdom is open to all 
men, can be possessed without the effusion 
of blood, and is without any comparison 
superior to all earthly kingdoms. If I 
should say, Despise this kingdom that you 
may obtain a small farm or a vineyard, you 
would justly be astonished and laugh at 
me : but when I say, or rather when God 
says, Despise this vile and contemptible 
kingdom, and seek that which is noble and 
great, (which you may obtain, if you wish, 
by the grace of God which is never want 
ing,) why do you not desire it, and hasten 
to obtain it ? I do not know what answer 
to make, except that the glory of this 
earthly kingdom is always before our eyes, 
and is touched, as it were, with our hands ; 
whilst our heavenly kingdom can neither 
be seen, nor touched, nor even conceived by 
faith. This, indeed, is true ; but if we 
attentively consider what force the authen 
ticity, truth, and inspiration of Scripture 
carry with them, <uid how forcibly and 
clearly this same Scripture speaks on this 
point, which is confirmed by the powerful 
testimony of many ages, not only by mira 
cles but also by blood, we shall certainly 
exclaim : Thy testimonies, Lord, are 
become exceedingly credible." (Ps. xcii.) 


The obscurity of our faith, therefore, is 
not the reason why we are not inflamed 
with a desire for this heavenly kingdom. 
But being occupied by exterior things, and 
weighed down by the force of custom, we 
have no time to think and consider what is 
expedient for us. We do not follow the 
advice of our Lord, by entering into our 
chamber/ and shutting the door of our 
heart ; we do not earnestly beseech God to 
direct us in so important an affair. But if, 
throwing aside for a time all minor cares, 
we were seriously to think on the kingdom 
of heaven ; how easily and securely it can 
be acquired. And what an ^immense dif 
ference there is between things temporal 
and things eternal between that which is 
most insignificant and that which is most 
excellent between what is of very little 
importance and what is of the utmost 
importance; in fine, between an earthly 
kingdom and a heavenly kingdom. Did 
we, I repeat, consider these truths, doubt 
less we should have such a contempt for all 
earthly thrones, crowns, and sceptres ; and, 
on the other hand, such an ardour for the 
heavenly things would rise in us, that, so 
far from being difficult, it would be a most 
easy task for us to employ all our strength 
in seeking and acquiring the kingdom of 
God, for which, as our true and last end, 
we were made by our wise Creator.* 

* Father Caraffa was accustomed to say, that if men 
thoroughly knew the truths of eternity, and compared the 




LET us now consider what is necessary to 
be done, in order that we may possess this 
most blessed and happy kingdom. But we 
need not say much on this point, since the 
King of heaven himself came upon earth to 
teach us ; and thus, as our Master and 
Leader, he has pointed out to us four most 
excellent and secure means. The first is : 
" Seek first the kingdom of God and his 
justice, and all these things shall be added 
unto you/ Our end is the kingdom of 
God, which kingdom will be given to us if 
we arrive there by the way pointed out to us 
by our Leader. Now, the " justice" of this 
kingdom is the mark at which we ought to 
aim, if we wish to gain the reward. For 
Cassian, in his first " Colloquy," teaches 
the end is one thing and thejmark another; 
the mark is the sign to which the arrows 
are directed, the end is the reward which 
those receive who reach that mark. Now, 
the mark proposed by God for our actions 
is "justice," and the reward the kingdom 
of heaven. But the justice of God is not 

goods and evils of this life with those of the next, the world 
would become a desert, because there would be no one that 
would attend to the affairs of this life. (See the "Spirit" of 
St. Liguori.) 


the justice of the Scribes and the Pharisees, 
which consisted merely in the external ob 
servance of the law ; nor is it the justice of 
the philosophers, which, corrupted by sin, 
did not extend beyond the light of reason. 
But it is the justice of the Gospel which 
teaches us, "to love God with our whole 
heart, with our whole soul, with our whole 
strength, and our neighbour (though our 
enemy) as ourselves." Of this end St. 
Paul speaks : " You have your fruit ^ unto 
sanctification, and the end life everlasting." 
(Romans, chap. vi. 22.) This is the lesson, 
therefore, which our Master teaches us, 
" First of all to seek the kingdom of God 
and His justice:" ^ that is, our chief con 
cern and only desire should be directed, 
not towards temporal goods, but to obtain 
the kingdom of heaven, by a perfect and 
most diligent observance of this first and 
greatest commandment. But because few 
do this, therefore " many are called, but 
few are chosen ;" for many live in such a 
manner that the kingdom of heaven is but 
a secondary consideration with them, and 
the justice of God an indifferent object, as 
if our Lord had said, " Seek first the king 
dom of this ivorld and its pleasures, and 
the kingdom of God shall be added unto 
you." But not so insignificant is the king 
dom of God, that it should be forced or 
those who prefer everything else to its pos 
session. But if we wish to learn an eas;y 
way to obtain the justice of God, whict 


most truly and certainly leads to this king 
dom, let us hear Christ, our Teacher: 
" Blessed are they that hunger and thirst 
after justice, for they shall have their nil. 
Is it then, O Lord, so easy to find justice 
with thee, that it is sufficient only to hun 
ger and thirst" after it? Truly blessed 
would all the poor be, if, merely by being 
hungry and thirsty after money, they could 
be so filled with it as to desire nothing 
more. But one is quite different from the 
other. For they who hunger sad. thirst 
after justice that is, they who seek justice 
as anxiously and as eagerly as those who 
suffer from thirst and desire water, or from 
hunger and desire food these always think 
of jfistice, they aspire after it and what is 
far better, they ask it of God with many 
and unceasing tears. Such petitions Uod 
always listens to with joy ; and He so falls 
them with the riches of His justice, that, 
being satiated thereby, they produce the 
words and the works of justice. But money 
is not such a good that he who desires it, or 
asks it of God, is immediately heard ; for 
many abuse their riches, but justice no one 
can abuse. In fine, justice is like wisdom, 
of which St. James speaks: " If any of you 
want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth 
to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not: 
and it shall be given him. unspeak 
able clemency of our Lord, who more easily 
and willingly grants what is necessary tor 
us, than we ask or desire it from Him ! It, 


therefore, we stand in need of ^ the wisdom 
of the saints, or of the gifts of justice, both 
of which are necessary for us to obtain the 
kingdom of heaven, let us ask them of God 
from our heart, seriously, with sighs and 
tears, and we shall surely obtain them. 
God giveth to all that ask in this manner ; 
nor doth He repel any one, or give^ cove 
tously or moderately, but bountifully : 
neither doth He rebuke us, as if He were 
angry that we besought Him so often. 
What can we say, then ? Who can bring 
excuse for his ignorance or infirmity in the 
day of judgment ? Seek only after justice, 
and ask it of God, and thou shalt be so filled 
that no more wilt thou desire the delights 
of the flesh, nor the allurements of honours, 
or of any other earthly good ; but thou wilt 
live in this world so justly, soberly, and 
piously, as to arrive in the next at an eter 
nal kingdom. 



ANOTHER road, which our Leader has 
pointed out to us is this : "Blessed are the 
poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of 
heaven." Here we are not commanded 
to keep our coffers entirely empty, but our 


heart and affections free from the desire of 
external things. Our Lord offers to us 
immense treasures, but He will not give 
them, unless we offer Him our heart com 
pletely disengaged from creatures. " The 
desire of money is the root of all evils/ 
(1 Tim. vi. 10.) In Greek it is called 
0*Xa/>cyv/tua that is, the love of money. But 
the root of all good is charity, and these 
two can never remain together. Where 
fore, unless we truly and perfectly become 
" poor in spirit," so that we are neither 
affected by riches nor by poverty, and unless 
we readily give something to the poor, and 
do not convert it to our own use, except 
through necessity, we cannot obtain the 
justice of the kingdom of God, and, conse 
quently, we cannot enter heaven. This is 
the true^ way that leadeth to life eternal ; 
upon this road our Saviour Himself was 
the first to enter, "Who being rich, became 
poor for your sakes, that through His po 
verty you might be rich." (2 Epist. to Cor. 
chap. viii. 9.) And although He kept a 
purse, yet He entrusted it to Judas, who 
He knew to be a thief, that so we might 
comprehend how free His soul was from the 
love of money. "Upon this path the Apos 
tles also entered, though it would not^have 
been difficult for them to have enriched 
themselves, since they were renowned for 
signs and wonders, and spoke the languages 
of many nations, and were admired by tlv3 
whole world for their wisdom. But they 


who had once spoke the words, Behold we 
have left all things, and have followed 
thee ;" who had tasted how sweet it was to 
be free from the love of money, having food 
and wherewith to be covered, they consi 
dered virtue and the justice of God to be 
their great gain. On this road also walked, 
not only monks and hermits, but even kings 
and pontiffs who have thus arrived at the 
kingdom of heaven. St. Lewis, King of 
France, was certainly rich ; but because he 
was at the same time poor in spirit, he 
used common garments, fasted frequently, 
was liberal to the poor, and severe to him 
self alone : he did not spend his money in 
banquets and pageants. St. Gregory also, 
who was a Pope, possessed many and large 
estates belonging to the Church ; but Be 
cause he likewise was "poor in spirit/ 
he was so liberal with his alms, though 
parsimonious in his own regard, that he 
seemed to exceed the bounds of liberality 
towards others, and of neglect ^ towards 
himself and his friends. But this is the 
way that leadeth to life. 

St. Paula, a Roman lady, whose life is 
written by St. Jerome,"" was amongst 

* See his epistle to Eustocliium, the daughter of Paiila. 
It is perhaps one of the most interesting and instructive 
amongst his letters. He thus commences: " Si cuncta cor- 
poris mei membra verterentur in linguas, et omnes artus 
Eumand voce resonarent, nihil dignum JSanctae ac venerabilis 
Paulae virtutibus dicerem." His account of her leaving 
Toxotius and Ruffina her children, and how they endea 
voured to stay her departure, is most affecting. The 
description of her death and burial in Jerusalem, is also 


women as poor in spirit, as she was rich 
in wealth. Though of most noble descent, 
she spent her money in erecting monaste 
ries, and supporting the poor with such libe 
rality, that it seemed to be her desire to be 
reduced to such poverty, as to compel others 
of their charity, to defray her funeral 
expenses. And how much she mortified 
her own body, we may be convinced by the 
fact, that she abstained from flesh, eggs, 
and wine ; for a linen garment, she wore 
sackcloth; she slept on the bare ground, 
and with frequent prayers and tears, endea 
voured to wash away even her trifling faults. 
St. Hedwiges* also, Queen of Poland, 
though rich in worldly goods, was richer by 
her poverty of spirit, being content with only 
one mean garment, which she wore even in 
the depth of winter ; she fasted daily, Sun 
days and great festivals being excepted; 
and with stripes,, watchings, and all kinds 
of mortifications, she thus subdued her 
body. From these circumstances we may 
learn to what purposes she applied her 
riches, and what little affection, if any at 
all, she had towards them. It is not then 

truly edifying. He ends in these words: "Vale, O Paula, 
et cultoris tui ultimam senectutem orationibus juva. Fides 
et opera tua Christo te sociant: prteseiis facilius quod pos- 
tulas, impetrabis. Exegi monumentum tuura a^re peren- 
nius, quod nulla destruere possit yetustas. Incidi elogium 
Sepulchro tuo, quod huic Volumini subdidi; tit quacunque 
npster sermo pervenit; Te laudataui, Te in Bethelem con- 
ditam Lector agnoscat." 

* See her life in Surius. 


wonderful, that this woman arrived ^ so 
quickly at the kingdom of heaven, being 
so poor in spirit, and so free from all other 



THE third way pointed out by our Leader 
is this : " Blessed are they that suffer per 
secution for justice sake ; for theirs is the 
kingdom of heaven/ (St. Matthew, ch. v. 
10.) Truly admirable is the doctrine of 
Christ our teacher, which however is hiadon 
from the "wise" of this world. For who 
would have believed, unless God had said 
it, that it is a blessed thing to be poor, but 
rich in afflictions ? ^ And yet truly hath He 
spoken. Nothing is more calculated to ac 
quire the true riches which merit the king 
dom of heaven, than a mind free from all 
affection to money, and at the same time 
full of a desire to suffer for Christ. Hear 
our Lord in St. Luke : " Woe to you that 
are filled ; woe to you that are rich, for you 
have your consolation; woe to you that 
laugh? (chap, vi.) And again in the same 
place : " Blessed are ye that hunger now, for 
ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep 
now, for ye shall laugh. Blessed shall ye 


be when men shall hate you, and when 
they shall separate you, and shall reproach 
you, and cast out your name as evil, for the 
Son of man s sake. Be glad in that day 
and rejoice ; for behold, your reward is 
great in heaven/ (verses 21, 22, &c.) Hear 
what St. James says of riches and tribu 
lations: "My brethren, count it all joy 
when you shall fall into divers temptations; 
knowing that the trying of your faith 
worketh patience ; and patience hath a per 
fect work." (chap, i.) Here he does not 
say: Bear, endure, be patient; but, Rejoice, 
yea, "count it all your joy:" that is, receive 
your tribulation, not as an affliction, but as 
matter for great joy. On the other hand, 
he thus speaks of riches : " Go to, now, ye 
rich men, weep and howl in your miseries 
which shall come upon you:" and in the 
preceding chapter he adds : " Be afflicted, 
and mourn, and weep : let your laughter be 
turned into mourning, and your joy into 
sorrow." (ch. iy. 9.) 

But whence is it, that persecution makes 
a man happy, which ought rather (one would 
suppose) make him miserable? Much 
could be said on this point : but I will make 
only one remark, that persecution is like a 
furnace of burning fire. And as fire pre 
pares our food, clears silver of its dross, and 
proves gold; so also does persecution, if 
patiently endured, prepare sinners for re 
ceiving grace ; it purges the imperfect, and 
proves the just, and thus all are wonderfully 


benefited. A sinner is "raw flesh" as it 
were, which, unless it be properly cooked, is 
cast away as not fit to be eaten by man. 
For a sinner is full of bad humours of the 
concupiscence of the flesh, which is Luxury: 
of the concupiscence of the eyes, which is 
Avarice : and of pride, which is Ambition. 
But if he pass through the furnace of perse 
cution, he is " cooked" in such a manner, 
as to be fit to be presented at the table of 
the Lord. When persecution or tribulation 
comes, then^we forget our passions, our 
avarice, ambition, &c. ; and we begin to be 
entirely different men. But a just man, 
though imperfect, and not subject to enor 
mous crimes, may yet be indulgent to his 
flesh, a lover of pleasure, a lover of gain, 
and of the vanities of the world. He is 
therefore like to silver full of much dross. 
But if the furnace of persecution should 
overtake him, and he bear it with patience, 
then the dross will gradually be separated 
from the silver ; he will begin to be recol 
lected, to meditate on heavenly things, to 
abstain from carnal desires ; in fine, to live 
justly, soberly, and piously in this world, 
and to expect that blessed hope, and the 
coming of the glory of the great God. 
I^astly, a man perfect in charity is gold ; 
but he has to be proved by the fire of per 
secution, lest others (and he himself) should 
suspect, that he was debased gold, not pure 
gold ; for when it is seen that he patiently 
endures the fire of persecution, not only is 


lie acknowledged by others to be what he 
appears to be, but he himself also acquires 
a greater hope, and a more secure expecta 
tion of the kingdom of heaven. " Tribula 
tion," saith the Apostle, "worketh patience; 
and patience trial; and trial hope; and 
hope confoundeth not." (Epistle to the 
Romans, chap. v. 3, &c.) Thus God 
daily more and more^ exalts his friend that 
is proved by tribulation, till at length He 
brings him to a share of his kingdom^ and 
happiness. Behold what is the fruit of 
patience in affliction ! But it is strange to 
see how few make use of these advantages, 
although they are open to all. Affliction 
is everywhere to be found, everywhere to 
be met with at home, on a journey, in the 
forum, in the temple, for in all places the 
wicked oppress the good. Wherefore, most 
true are the words of the Apostle: "All 
that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall 
suffer persecution." But we, delicate sol 
diers, either fly from this proving furnace, 
or when we have received an injury we 
throw it back on our adversary : so that we 
not only refuse to suffer persecution, but 
we even cause it. And those are to be 
found a man s enemies of his own house 
hold that applaud him who retaliates an 
injury, (as it is called,) and yet such people 
who despise the precepts of Christ, wish to 
be called Christians ! 




BUT because this doctrine is very diffi 
cult, and very few understand it, and much 
less wish to experience it, therefore our 
Leader hath pointed out the fourth "way," 
and this very narrow. He says : " The 
kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and 
the violent alone bear it away/ (St. Mat 
thew, chap. xi. 12.) As if He had said: 
I^arn aware that it will appear a paradox 
to men, that those should be happy who 
are poor, and those miserable who are rich ; 
on the contrary, that we should rejoice in 
afflictions, and weep in prosperity ; neither 
was I ignorant, that few are they who 
would wish to lose present goods, in order 
to acquire future ones ; and to choose pre 
sent evils, that so they might avoid those 
to come. But I who am Truth, must speak 
the truth; therefore I now add, that the 
kingdom of heaven can be taken only by 
the violent ; therefore have I said in 
another place : " How hardly shall they 
that have riches enter into the kingdom of 
heaven. For it is easier for a camel to pass 
through the eye of a needle, than for a rich 
man to enter into the kingdom of heaven." 
And again : " How narrow is the gate, and 


straight is the way that leadeth to life, and 
few there are that find it !" And in another 
place I have said, that the kingdom of 
heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a 
field; and to a precious " pearl which 
cannot be purchased unless we sell every 
thing; hence it is necessary for us to be 
deprived of every thing on earth, if we wish 
to possess in heaven this heavenly treasure 
and precious pearl. In St. Luke I have 
likewise plainly assured you : " Every one 
of you that doth not renounce all that he pos- 
sesseth, cannot be my disciple/ (chap. xiv. 
ver. 33.) And although this "renuncia 
tion" is to be understood as relating to the 
affection of the mind ; yet since a real dis 
position to part with all temporal goods, 
should the honour of God or our own salva 
tion require it, is no easy matter, and which 
few accomplish, I have therefore added 
other similitudes concerning him who 
wished to build a tower, and had not 
wherewith to finish it ; and of a king who 
was about to wage war against another 
king, and had not sufficient forces to engage 
with him, with any hope of victory. Now 
if the erection of a tower, without a great 
sum of money, and a war against a power 
ful king, without a great army, be difficult 
and almost impossible things, how much 
more difficult will it be to accomplish both 
of these ^at the same time ? But we must 
accomplish both, if we wish to gain heaven; 
for a tower is to be built which must reach 


to heaven ; that is, good works are to be 
performed which will merit eternal life : and 
at the same time, we have to fight against 
numerous and powerful enemies, viz. im 
pure spirits, who with all their might endea 
vour to hinder the building of the tower. 
We have a figure of this conflict ^ in the 
children of Israel, who, when they wished to 
rebuild Jerusalem that had been destroyed 
by the Chaldeans, were obliged with incre 
dible toil and anxiety, to build with one 
hand and to fight with the other, on account 
of the neighbouring nations that attacked 
them."" From these considerations it is 
manifest, that the kingdom of heaven can 
not be obtained without great toil and 
labour, by those who are wedded to earthly 
objects, who do not tame the concupiscence 
of the flesh, nor have learned to fight with 
their invisible enemies. But he who wishes 
seriously to apply, by the grace of God, to 
Christian perfection ; to consider, not care 
lessly, but most attentively, the words of 
Christ ; and to follow His example and that 
of the saints, gradually the way will be 
opened before him ; his strength will 
increase ; his enemies diminish ; and by 
the charity of God in Christ Jesus, his yoke 
will begin to appear sweet and his burden 
light ; and then will be accomplished the 

* " Of them that built on the wall and that carried bur 
dens, and that laded; with one of his hands he did the work, 
and with the other he held a sword." (2 Esdras, chap. 
iv. 17.) 


words of Isaias : " They that hope in the 
Lord shall renew their strength, they shall 
take wings as eagles, they shall run^ and 
not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. * 
(chap. xl. ver. 31.) And they will exclaim 
with the royal Prophet : " I have run the 
way of thy commandments, when thou 
didst enlarge my heart." It was not truly 
a difficult thing for St. Antony to spend so 
many sleepless nights ; nay, even the night 
appeared too short through the sweetness 
he enjoyed from the divine contemplation, 
for he complained of the sun, paying: 
<f Why dost thou hinder me by rising at 
this timo, and withdrawing me from the 
brightness of my true Light?" Neither 
was it difficult for him (as well as many 
others like him) to prolong their fasting 
through a whole week, since they were 
refreshed with the heavenly bread of divine 
contemplation. Neither was ^ it painful for 
St. Austin, to be deprived of those carnal 
pleasures to which he had been addicted 
from his youth, when once he began to 
taste the sweetness of divine love, and the 
delight of inward contemplation. Where 
fore no one, whoever he may be, ought to 
despond ; but rather to hope in the power 
of the Most High, who, as He hath made 
us for Himself, will also draw us to Him 
self and place us in His kingdom, by the 

* Cassian, (Colloquy Sth, chap. 31.) 


merits of His Son, by whose precious blood 
we have been redeemed. 

Wherefore, Christian soul, thou shouldst 
not despond on account of the difficulty of 
the way, but hope in the Lord, who would 
not have invited thee to seek His kingdom 
in the first place, unless He had been pre 
pared to aid thee by His most powerful 
assistance. Courageously therefore com 
mence the journey. There is no occasion 
here for deliberation. If the labour be 
great, great also is the reward ; and if the 
numerous forces of the enemy hinder thee, 
greater is the power of God who assists 
thee. And if many of every age and sex 
have been enabled to arrive at the kingdom 
by this way, why mayest not thou also 
obtain the same ? They were not made of 
stone or iron, but of flesh ; they were mor 
tal and frail, and therefore they could do 
nothing of themselves, but only by the Lord 
their God. Canst not thou therefore, 
though weak and infirm, do the same by 
the Lord thy God? (t Cast thyself upon 
Him," says St. Austin, " fear not ; He will 
not withdraw Himself, that thou shouldst 
fall : securely cast thyself upon Him ; He 
will receive thee, and will help thee."* 
God is faithful, He cannot deceive. Two 
things only are required of thee ; one, that 
thou most firmly resolve to prefer the glory 
of God and thy eternal salvation before all 


* Lib. 8. Confess, cap. 11. 


things else ; the other, that thou confide 
not in thy own strength, or in thy own wis 
dom, but in the power of God and His 
infinite love. If thou wilt comply with these 
two conditions, " the crooked shall become 
straight, and the rough ways plain" to thee; 
and thou wilt serve the Lord with joy and 
exultation, and " wilt sing in the ways of 
the Lord; for great is the glory of the 







" GLORIOUS things are said of thee, O 
city of God:" wherefore I have desired to 
behold thy glory, meditating upon it through 
a glass in an obscure manner. But our 
first consideration is, why the happiness of 
the saints, which in the Holy Scripture is 
called the kingdom of heaven, is also called 
the " City of God." This appears to me 
to be the reason ; because as it is called 
a kingdom on account of its extent, so also 
it ought to be called a " City," on account 
of its beauty. One might suppose, when 
he heard of a vast and extensive kingdom, 
that there are in it many deserts, many 
wild uncultivated places, and mountains 
fit only for the habitation of beasts, besides 
inaccessible rocks, forests, and precipices, 
&c. But since all these are far removed 
from the happiness of the saints, the Holy 


Spirit therefore teaches us, that the king 
dom of heaven is like to a most "beautiful 
city ; and although it is of a boundless 
extent, yet the whole is so glorious as to 
appear a most populous and opulent 
city. In large cities especially are to be 
seen beautiful temples, splendid palaces, 
most delightful gardens, noble forums, 
fountains, columns, pyramids, obelisks, 
theatres, towers, and other buildings for 
the use of the public. How beautiful would 
Italy be, if the barren Apennines were re 
moved, and all the country shone like Rome 
did (not as it appears now) under Augustus 
Csesar ! From being of brick, he made it 
of marble. And how beautiful would Syria 
have been formerly, if all parts had been 
like Jerusalem such as it was before its 
destruction by the Romans ! Josephus 
gives such a description of it, that its mag 
nificence must have been the admiration of 
the whole world f f of it the Prophet justly 
sings, " Glorious things are said of thee, O 
city of God;" and yet it had not then 
arrived at that eminence to which Herod 
the Great carried it, after the reigns of 
David and Solomon. How beautiful also 
would Chaldsea, and all Assyria and Meso 
potamia, and the whole East have been, 
had these been enclosed within the walls of 
Babylon ! Pliny and Strabo give such 
descriptions of its magnitude and beauty, 

* Vide Lib. vi. de Bello Judaico, cap. 6. 


that they seem incredible : hence Babylon 
was considered one of the seven w mders^ol 
the world. Now, what must that city 
above be the heavenly Jerusalem, which 
embraceth the whole kingdom of heaven? 
This kingdom so far excels all other king 
doms in glory, majesty, and extent, that 
the whole appears but one city, most beau 
tiful, most noble. Truly, then, this heavenly 
city is such, that no one can seriously think 
of it without frequently aspiring after it; 
and no one can desire it without imme 
diately leaving all things to possess it, 
and never resting till he find it. Hear how 
Tobias, exulting in spirit, speaks of this 
city : " Thou shalt shine with a glorious 
light, and all the ends of the earth shall 

worship thee The gates of Jerusalem 

shall be built of sapphire and of emerald, 
and all the walls thereof round about of 
precious stones. And all its streets shall 
be paved with white and clean stones ; and 
Alleluia shall be s ung in its streets." (chap, 
xiii. 21, 22.) And St. John also, in his 
Apocalypse, agrees with Tobias : The 
building of the wall thereof was of jasper- 
stone ; but the city itself pure gold, like to 
clear glass. And the foundations of the 
walls of the city were adorned with all 

manner of precious stones and every 

several gate was of one several pearl ; and 
the street of the city was pure gold, as it 
were transparent glass." (chap, xxi.) But 
we must not suppose the heavenly Jerusa- 


lem to be in reality adorned with gold and 
precious stones, but by this mode of ex 
pression we are to understand, that the 
heavenly city is as much superior to earth 
as gold is to dirt, as pearls to common 
stone, the stars to candles, the sun to a 
torch, and mortal architects to God, the 
immortal Creator of all things. But as we 
intend to speak of the beauty of all the 
parts of the city of God, we shall dwell no 
longer on this point. 



ANOTHER reason why the kingdom of 
heaven is called the "city of God," appears 
to be this, because a kingdom usually 
contains an almost infinite number of peo 
ple, differing one from another in their 
language, manners, and laws ; where many 
have never seen each other, and much less 
formed any acquaintance. But a city in 
cludes those only who are of the same lan 
guage, the same customs, and who are 
governed by the same laws. Wherefore, 
heaven is called both "a kingdom and a 
city/ because, although the inhabitants of 
this heavenly kingdom are almost innume 
rable, and as St. John tells us, are collected 
from " all nations, and tribes, and peoples, 


and tongues," and also divided into angels, 
archangels, principalities, powers, domina 
tions, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim, 
who are much more numerous than men, 
and are distinguished, not by nations, and 
peoples, and tongues, but by a specific 
diversity of nature ; yet all these are true 
citizens, living in concord and unanimity, 
and governed by one only law of charity. 
Wherefore, all have but one heart and one 
soul. And because charity is contrary to 
hatred, envy, contention, discord, strife, 
and other vices, therefore anger, conten 
tion, envy, &c., are far removed from this 
holy city of Jerusalem :^ charity alone 
reigneth, and with it justice, peace, and 
"joy in the Holy Ghost/ In the begin 
ning of creation there was a great battle in 
heaven between Michael, the archangel, 
and the dragon; but Michael, and the 
angels who remained firm with him in faith 
and obedience to their Lord, gained the 
victory over the dragon and his angels, who 
by their pride had fallen away from God."" 
"And that great dragon was cast out, that 
old serpent who is called the devil and 
Satan, who seduce th the whole world ; and 
he was cast unto the ^ earth, and his angels 
were thrown down with him." (Apoc. chap. 

This battle seems by 

* See the Apocalypse, chap. xii 

the mystery of our Redemption. 
cation of St. Michael, Sept. 29.) 


xii. 9.) From that time the holy city of 
Jerusalem " hath placed peace in its bor 
ders ;" nor has the sound of the war- trum 
pet been heard therein, neither will it be 
heard there for ever. 

What then can be sweeter, what more 
blessed than this city? They who know 
the evils of war, its depredations, slaughter, 
rapine, sacrileges, &c., can easily imagine 
the sweetness of peace. But, leaving aside 
war, who has not experienced in his own 
city, and even in his own house, how dis 
agreeable it is to have anything to do with 
passionate men, who take the worst view of 
all our actions ? " Depart from the unjust, 
and evil shall depart from thee," saith 
Ecclesiasticus. But where shall we go, and 
not find the unjust ? and if they are every 
where to be found, evils will certainly be 
found also, as long as we remain in this 
land of exile. Hear how the same Eccle 
siasticus speaks of a wicked woman : "It 
will be more agreeable to abide with a lion 
and a dragon than to dwell with a wicked 
woman. " (chap, xxv.) Now, if the partner 
of one s life becomes a lion and a dragon 
on account of her wickedness, to how many 
afflictions are men exposed ! "All that will 
live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer per 
secution," says the apostle. (2 Timothy, 
chap. iii. 12.) How unhappy, therefore, is 
the city of this world, wherein we are 
obliged to bear with so many enemies, and 
to fight our way. If we wish to be devout, 


we shall be persecuted by men ; and if, to 
avoid their persecution, we become wicked, 
we shall then incur the indignation of our 
supreme and almighty King, who will 
punish us, and, both alive and dead, will 
take vengeance, for His anger no one can 
resist. Oh, unfortunate and miserable 
country, where no one can escape from war 
or persecution, where no one can find true 
peace ! Let us therefore, with our whole 
heart, love and praise that heavenly city, 
from which alone every affliction is banish 
ed, and where no war, no hatred, no strife, 
can ever gain admittance. 



A THIRD reason why the kingdom of God 
is called a "city," is because a kingdom is 
in the form of a monarchy, and this seems 
opposed to liberty. But all the citizens 
of heaven are free, and Jerusalem, our 
mother above, is also "free," according to 
St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians. 
This blessed Apostle knew what he was 
speaking of, since he had been rapt up into 
the third heaven, into paradise, and became 
acquainted with the nature of the city. 
Wherefore, as a kingdom implies servitude, 
and a city liberty, that kingdom alone may 


be called a city where they who obey the 
king are free. But the blessed in heaven 
possess not one simple liberty, but one that 
is manifold. In the first place, all the in 
habitants are free from the servitude of sin, 
because the first liberty possessed in the 
earthly paradise was to be able not to sin ; 
but the second enjoyed in heaven is far 
more excellent " not to be able to sin," 
as St. Austin teaches."* 

Another liberty (like the former) is being 
free from the servitude of death. Adam in 
the earthly paradise was free, so that he 
could have escaped death : the Sons ol 
Adam in the heavenly paradise are free, so 
that they cannot die. You must not be 
surprised at our making liberty to consist 
in not being able to do anything ; because 
"^not ^being able to sin, and not able to 
die," indicate the height of liberty from the 
servitude of sin, and the servitude of mor 
tality. For he who cannot sin, is not only 
free from sin, but is also so far removed 
from its servitude that he feels a sure secu 
rity sin will never prevail within him ; and 
he who cannot die is not only free from 
death, but he is so far removed from it that 
he feels confident death will never approach 
him. This liberty God alone naturally 
enjoys, for the Apostle says: " Who alone 
hath immortality." And ^ although the 
angels and souls endowed with reason are 

* De Correptione et Gratia, cap. ii. 


said to be naturally immortal, because they 
have within them no principle of corrup 
tion ; yet God, who made them, can also 
destroy them. But, as we have already 
remarked, the angels and blessed ^ spirits 
are certain that they will never sin and 
never die, and therefore they are completely 
free from the servitude of sin and^of death ; 
this is a most honourable participation in 
the Divine liberty. 

The third liberty consists in being free 
from "necessity" in general. Now man is 
obliged to eat, drink, sleep, and labour, at 
one time to stand or walk, and at another 
to lie down. But the saints in heaven are 
not subject to any such necessity, but are 
free from every necessity, which is the 
liberty of the glory of the Sons of God, as 
St. Paul expresses it in his Epistle to the 
Romans. How great this liberty is, first 
poor people, then spiritual men, and thirdly 
the rich of this world bear witness. What 
labour the poor endure that they may pro 
vide food and clothing for themselves and 
children! and how greatly would they 
thank those who would free them from such 
a state of servitude ! Many even rob and 
plunder others, and suffer themselves to be 
led into bad habits, to be enabled to sup 
port themselves; for they say with the 
unjust steward in the Gospel, " To dig I 
am unable, to beg I am ashamed ; 1 know 
what I will do." I will defraud my Mas 
ter that is, by theft and injustice I will 


free myself from His servitude. But by 
this mode of acting we fall into a far more 
grievous servitude, viz., the servitude of sin 
and the devil, the most bitter enemy of the 
human race. Holy men, who give them 
selves up to heavenly contemplation, consi 
der the servitude of attending to the body 
to be a grievous burden, because it standeth 
in need of many things, and steals a great 
part of their time from other more impor 
tant concerns. Eusebius, in his Ecclesias 
tical History,"" relates from Philo that the 
first Christians of Alexandria, living under 
St. Mark the Evangelist, were so taken up 
with their heavenly meditations as never to 
taste any food until after sunset, that thus 
they might give the whole day and a great 
part of the night to such spiritual employ 
ment : scarcely did they allow any portion 
for the refreshment of the body. The 
same historian tells us, that some forgot 
their food for three days together, and others 
continued their fast for six days. Cassian 
in his Colloquies, and Theodoret in his 
History, testify that many holy hermits 
were accustomed to the same thing. 
Wherefore, to all these the servitude of the 
body was most grievous, and with the 
Apostle they exclaimed: " Unhappy man 
that I am, who shall deliver me from the 
body of this death?" But to the inhabi 
tants of this world, and especially to those 

* Lib. 2 cap. 1G. 


who are rich, this servitude does not appear 
grievous, but were they wise they would 
think differently. They are addicted to 
excessive eating and drinking, and love to 
sleep on soft couches, and when they ex 
ceed the bounds of moderation, they fill 
their bodies with diseases, and to get free 
from them they are obliged to take bitter 
medicine, and to endure many sharp pains. 
Wherefore they are necessitated, whether 
willing or unwilling, either to remain 
enemies to God and to bear His terrible 
wrath, or to fight against the concupiscence 
of the flesh by temperance and sobriety. 
This is doubtless a most laborious and dan 
gerous war ; but thus both poor and rich, 
the good and the wicked, would be free 
from a most painful "necessity" and mise 
rable servitude. 

The fourth liberty consists in being free 
from obedience to the law and the divine 
precepts, for " the law is not made for the 
just man, but for the unjust," as St. Paul 
mentions in His Epistle to Timothy. None 
are more just than the blessed, who are 
confirmed in justice, and cannot therefore 
become unjust.^ It is true, indeed, that to 
the just living in this world, the law is not 
a threatening one, because of their own. 
accord they willingly obey it ; nevertheless, 
it cannot be denied but that it is a law 
which directs and binds them to do that 
which is commanded, and to avoid that 
which is forbidden. But the just, who 


enjoy the liberty of the Sons of God, stand 
in need of no law, because they behold all 
justice in the divine "Word," and, being 
confirmed in perfect charity, they cannot 
but accomplish the will of God. Great, 
then, is this liberty which frees them from 
every solicitude, and which is so opposed 
to captivity and the servitude of those un 
happy beings, who, with their hands and 
feet bound, are "cast into the exterior dark 
ness/ and into the "furnace of fire," which 
they can neither endure nor avoid. And 
yet either one or the other of these abodes 
will be the lot of every son of Adam. But, 
alas ! many are so blinded by the smoke of 
present honours, or by the dust of earthly 
goods, that they see not these things, 
neither do they consider them, " until sud 
den destruction" come upon them: then 
their torments open their eyes, which before 
their sins had shut. 



BUT let us now turn toward the Celestial 
city, and attentively consider its situation, 
form, foundation, gates, walls, and streets. 
It is situated on the holy mountains : thus 
\ve read in the Psalmist, tf The foundations 
thereof are in the holy mountains ;" with 


this St. John agrees in the Apocalypse, 
where he says : " And he took me up in 
spirit to a great and high mountain : and 
he showed me the holy city Jerusalem, 
coming down out of heaven from God." 
(chap. xxi. 10.) The situation of a city on 
a mountain is very convenient and useful, 
both for the purity of the airland as a forti 
fication. But what mountains are higher 
than heaven ? and what mountain is exalt 
ed above all mountains, except the heaven 
of heavens, of which David speaks, " The 
heaven of heavens is the Lord s 1" This is 
that mountain for which the same Prophet 
sighed when he said, " Who shall ascend 
into the mountain of the Lord, or who shall 
stand in His holy place?" ^And from this 
he implored and expected assistance, saying, 
" I have lifted up my eyes to the moun 
tains, from whence help shall come to me." 
Wherefore, the situation of the city of God 
is so high as to shut out everything that 
could in any way disturb its peace and har 
mony. It is higher than dust, thorns, and 
briars, or the poisonous bite of animals can 
reach: it is so high that neither vapours 
nor clouds, neither hail, nor thunder, ^ fire, 
nor lightning can terrify it : in fine, it is so 
high that those impure birds, which St. 
Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, calls 
f The spirits of wickedness in the high 
places," can never reach it. 

The form of the City of God is square, for 
thus St. John tells us: " And the city lieth 


in a four square, and the length thereof is 
as great as the breadth." This expression 
signifies nothing more, than that admirable 
and perfect justice which is to be found in 
the city, where nothing unjust, nothing 
contradictory, nothing deformed can gain 
admittance. ^ Thus St. Austin explains the 
Psalm, " Mirabile in eequitate," that is, 
in justice. And truly wonderful will it be, 
to behold the innumerable inhabitants of 
this city, all endowed with perfect free-will; 
and yet throughout all eternity nothing 
wrong or imperfect will be found in any 
one of them, either in thought, word, or 
deed. Justly, therefore, does this city lie 
in a square, so that the breadth should not, 
in the least point, exceed the length, noi 
the length the breadth. This figure of a 
square may also signify, that the breadth of 
its heavenly treasures is equal to their 
length ; because as the abundance of goods 
will be infinite, so also will their duration. 
In the Scripture, breadth is applied to mul 
tiplicity, length to the duration of a thing. 
Thus, in the third Book of Kings, the 
great wisdom of Solomon is said to be 
" largeness of heart* as the sand that is 
on the sea- shore:" and in the 90th Psalm, 
duration of time is called " length of 
days." There will, therefore, be in the 
city of our God, as much breadth as length, 
because there will be an immensity of good 

* Latitude Cordis. 


things, together with an eternal duration 
of them. St. John also adds, that the 
height of the city is as great as its breadth, 
(so that it is square in every part) because 
the goods of the heavenly Jerusalem will 
not only be great and eternal, but also 
most noble and sublime. It is of little 
consequence, that Vitruvius and Yegetius 
do not approve of a square for the situation 
of a city : they speak of a city that feareth 
an enemy. But the Scripture speaketh of 
that holy city, which hath placed peace in 
its borders, and to which no evil can come 
on account of its height. 



THE foundation is of such a nature, that 
the city alone may justly be called the foun 
dation. Thus speaks St. Paul in his Epis 
tle to the Hebrews, "For he looked for 
a city that hath foundations ; whose builder 
and maker is God/ (chap. xi. 10.) The 
Apostle gives the reason, why Abraham 
did not build a city in the land of promise, 
but dwelt therein as a stranger : the reason 
was, because he knew that the land of pro 
mise was but a figure of a better land of 
promise; and, therefore, he was unwilling 
to build a house or city that would perish, 



because he looked for a city that had a 
strong foundation, "whose builder and 
maker is God/ Wherefore, this heavenly 
city alone truly and properly hath a founda 
tion, since it was built by God to endure 
for ever. The cities which Cain, Nimrod, 
Ninus, Nabuchodonosor, Romulus, &c., 
founded, have often fallen, and at the last 
day will entirely be e destroyed: this proves 
that they had no solid foundation. Hence, 
we may understand how much wiser were 
the Patriarchs than we are, who, although 
they lived more than double the number of 
our years, and were obliged to wait so 
many thousands of years before they could 
enter the heavenly city; yet they built 
neither cities nor houses, but dwelt in 
tabernacles, as strangers and pilgrims, be 
lieving with an assured hope that they were 
destined to inhabit an Eternal city in 
heaven, and that all things on earth would 
quickly perish. But we, who live to such a 
short period, and who can, if we wish, im 
mediately after death, enter into that most 
blessed city, so labour in erecting and 
adorning buildings on earth, as if we were 
either never to die, or else had no expecta 
tions of entering Heaven. In this point, 
we certainly imitate not the faithful Patri 
archs, but unbelieving Infidels: and yet we 
are Christians, and we know that Christ 
and his Apostles built neither a city, nor a 
tower, nor had even a house ; neither did 
they wish for one. But still, I do not 


blame the princes of this world, although 
Christians, for building new cities : nor pri 
vate individuals for erecting houses for 
their own convenience. For we know that 
David, a pious king, enlarged the city of 
Jerusalem, and built in it a royal palace, 
as we read in the Second Book of Kings. 
We also know that St. Lewis, king of 
France, erected in Palestine, at his^ own 
expense, several cities for the Christians : 
neither are we ignorant, that it is but just 
Princes should possess more magnificent 
habitations than private men, and patri 
cians more than the common people. But 
we only require moderation, and condemn 
extravagance, especially when individuals 
wish for the palaces of princes; and princes, 
not content with their palaces, erect im 
mense buildings that look like towns : in 
fine, we blame a too great affection for 
temporal goods, as if our chief happiness 
consisted in them: but we praise a con 
tempt for the world, joined with the humi 
lity of Christ. 

The gates of this city are said by St. 
John to be made of precious stones, and 
the walls of the jaspar- stone; but the whole 
city itself of pure gold. All this signifies 
that every part is precious, pure, and trans 
parent; for we know that pearls are both 
precious and white: the jaspar-stone is 
sometimes found white, and other times 
green. But St. John says : " And the light 
thereof was like to a precious stone, as to 


the jaspar- stone, even as crystal :" he adds, 
"as crystal," to show that he is speak 
ing, not of a green jaspar, or any other 
colour, but of a white and clear one. Thus 
also when he says, that the streets are of 
pure gold, he adds, "like to clear glass;" 
that is, transparent and white like crystal. 
Wherefore, whether we consider the whole 
city, or the gates, the walls, or the streets, 
all is precious: nothing is mean, unbe 
coming, fading ; but every thing is beauti 
ful, every thing visible, because there 
nothing can be found to be hidden or con 
cealed : all behold all things : there no sus 
picions nor stratagems are admitted. This 
perhaps is the reason why St. John says in 
the same place, " And the gates thereof 
shall not be shut/ because no darkness, 
no robbers, no enemies are there, on ac 
count of which the gates should be closed 
at night. This verse is not opposed to the 
words of the Psalmist, where he praises the 
heavenly Jerusalem: "Praise the Lord, O 
Jerusalem, because he hath strengthened 
the bolts of thy gates." (Psalm cxlvii.) 
Both the Psalmist and the Evangelist 
mean this only that in the heavenly Jeru 
salem, no danger is to be apprehended from 
enemies or robbers. By the gates being 
always shut, the one signified, that the 
divine protection would never permit any 
enemy to enter the beloved city of God: 
the other meant, by the gates being always 
open, th~t the city was so secure from 


every evil attack, there was no need^ of 
keeping the gates shut, nor of employing 
any guards. But what do the gates, the 
walls, and streets Signify? The gates 
always open signify, that by the passion of 
Christ admittance has been given to all 
men, of entering the city of God, and of 
His angels ; " Christ having overcome the 
sting of death, hath opened to believers the 
kingdom of heaven." And not one only, 
but twelve gates are there, by which chris- 
tians can enter the city : thus St. John tells 
us : "On the east, three gates ; and on the 
north, three gates ; and on the south, three 
gates; and on the west, three gates/ 
Therein enter, not the Jews alone, as they 
imagine ; but all nations from every quar 
ter of the earth: nay, so few Jews enter, as 
to bear no comparison with the others. 
Thus our Lord predicted when He spoke 
of the centurion: " Amen I say unto you, 
I have not found so great faith in Israel. 
And I say to you, that many shall come 
from the east and the west, and shall sit 
down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob 
in the kingdom of heaven : but the children 
of the kingdom shall be cast out into the 
exterior darkness." And in the parable of 
the vineyard, " Therefore I say to you, that 
the kingdom of God shall be taken from 
you, and shall be given to a nation yielding 
the fruits thereof." But this is most 
clearly expressed in St. Luke : { There 
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, 


wlien you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, 
and Jacob, and all the prophets in the 
kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 
And there shall come from the east and 
the west, and the north and the south, and 
shall sit down in the kingdom of God/ 
Three gates are said to be from every part 
of the world, making in all twelve, because 
an entrance will be open, not only from the 
east and the west, the north and the south, 
but from the beginning of the east, from 
the middle, and from the end of the east, 
and so of the other parts. Another expla 
nation may perhaps please us more, that 
the three gates are fixed to each part of 
the heavenly city, to express the mystery 
of the Trinity and the three most necessary 
virtues: for all those enter from the four 
quarters of the globe, who being baptized 
in the name of the three divine Persons, 
have persevered to the end in Faith, Hope, 
and Charity. 



THE walls of the city signify nothing 
more,^ than the divine protection, which 
alone is sufficient to guard the city, without 
the aid of soldiers, arms, or towers. "And 
I will be, saith the Lord, a wall of fire 


round about : and I will be in glory in the 
midst thereof." (Zacharias ii.) Truly ad 
mirable promise ! "I will^be a wall of fire 
round about" to restrain the enemy: 
" and I will be in glory in the midst there 
of" to honour the citizens. As if He had 
said : Fire burns and shines : I will there 
fore burn mine enemies, and enlighten my 
friends: thus will I be a "fire round 
about," and a light of glory in the midst 
thereof. This St. John explains where he 
says: "And the city hath no need of the 
sun, nor of the moon to shine in it. For 
the glory of God hath enlightened^ it, and 
the Lamb is the lamp thereof." The 
brightness of God, as a sun, illumines their 
souls ; and Christ, the Lamb of God, illu 
mines the body. But Christ is said to be 
a "lamp," not because it is necessary in 
the night, but with reference to his divi 
nity : for if the just shall shine like the sun 
in the kingdom of God, as our Lord tells us 
in St, Matthew ; how much more glorious 
will Christ appear not as a lamp, but as 
the chief Sun enlightening the city of God ! 
And, therefore, St. John adds, " For there 
shall be no night." The streets of the city 
comprehend the whole space which is 
within the circumference of the walls. This 
is the habitation of the heavenly citizens - 
all of which is pure gold ; that is, an ardent 
and pure charity which embraceth all, and 
by which all live in each through mutual 
love : and not only all in all, but all dwell 


in God, and God in all: " for he that abid- 
eth in charity, abideth in God, and God 
in him." (1 St. John iv. 16.) And that 
this might be accomplished, Christ our 
Lord asked of His Father in that prayer 
which he made before His passion, in pre 
sence of all His apostles, saying: "And 
not for them only do I pray, but for them 
also who through their word shall believe in 
me: That they may all be one, as thou 
Father in Me, and I in Thee; that they 
also may be one in Us." (St. John xvii. 
20, 21.) O blessed city which, placed on 
the highest mountain, enjoyest the purest 
air! Thou art founded on a rock, that 
thou mayest have eternal strength: thy 
gates shine as pearls, and are always open 
to those that enter : God is thy wall, that 
continually surrounds thee by His protec 
tion, and adorns thee as a precious jasper- 
stone : thy street is charity, purer than any 
gold, clearer than any crystal, which 
maketh all that dwell within thee, to be of 
one heart and one soul ; which filleth them 
with ineffable joy, and crowneth them with 
eternal peace : "My soul longeth and fairit- 
eth" for thy courts."" What can be 

* beatissima Civitas, quse in monte altissimo sita, aur 
purissima fraeris; quse super petram fundata es, ut eeternS 
lirmitate nitaris; cujus portaB ut margaritse fulgent, et 
semper in troeuntibus patent; cujus murus Deus est, quite 
protectione sua semper eircumdat, et ut lapis Jaspis pretio- 
sus exornat; cujus Platea Charitas est omiii auro lucidior, 
et oinni crystal I o candidior, quae oinnes in te habitantes 
facit esse cor unum, et Animum unum," &c. 


sweeter to one labouring and groaning 
amidst a corrupt nation -amongst false 
brethren in a world " seated in iniquity," 
than to flee away to a kingdom wherein the 
sweetest peace is found, wherein charity 
alone reigneth? " When shall I come and 
appear before the face of my God?" 
(Psalm xli.) What more desirable for a 
soul that loves God, than to behold her 
Beloved to be seen by her Beloved and 
by an intimate and most joyful union, to 
dwell within Him, and He in her ! It may 
indeed appear an intolerable boldness, that 
dust and ashes should sigh after thy courts, 
O holy city, and a still greater audacity, 
that a vile creature should aspire to the 
embraces of his Creator. But He will ex 
cuse this boldness, since He hath given it 
unto us, when he asked the Father, that 
"all might be one ;" and that as the Father 
is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, 
so also we might be one in both. 



BUT there is something else wanting in 
the city, viz : a temple to praise God, and 
to take our meat and drink: of garments 
we shall stand in no need. For if in the 
earthly paradise Adam and Eve required 


none, much less will the Saints want them 
in their heavenly paradise, where all are 
clothed with light as with a garment. And 
not only Adam and Eve required food, but 
also the angels themselves, as Raphael 
saith : " But I use an invisible meat and 
drink, which cannot be seen by men." 
(Tobias xii. 19.) And so also in relation to 
this temple, St. John thus speaks in his 
Apocalypse: "And I saw no temple therein. 
For the Lord God Almighty is the temple 
thereof, and the Lamb." (chap, xxi.) That 
St. John saw no temple in the holy city, 
must not appear strange to us : in the 
church militant temples are erected, for 
four reasons : That the word of God might 
be preached to the people ; that the sacra 
ments and sacrifices might be celebrated; 
that public prayer might be offered to 
God, and Psalms sung to the Lord with 
joy and gladness. Now the preaching of 
God s word will cease in heaven, where the 
uncreated Word itself will clearly speak 
unto all, according to the prediction of 
Jeremiah the prophet: "And they shall 
teach 110 more every man his neighbour, 
and every man his brother, saying : "Know 
the Lord : for all shall know me from the 
least of them even to the greatest, saith 
the Lord." (chap. xxi. 34.) Sacraments 
and sacrifice likewise will not be necessary 
there, where neither sin is to expiated, nor 
signs are required, because the thing signi 
fied will then be made manifest. Prayer 


and praise are here on earth given to God 
in sacred temples dedicated unto Him, be 
cause He hath promised to have His eyes 
and ears open to the prayers of those who 
should gather together in His name ; thus 
He spoke to Solomon in the 2nd Book of 
Paralipomenon : " My eyes also shall be 
open, and my ears attentive to the prayer 
of him who shall pray in this place." 
(chap. vii. 15.) But since in the heavenly 
city, God will be seen and heard by all, 
there is no necessity for a temple in that 
place. Thus we can easily understand 
what St. John saith : " And I saw no tem 
ple therein:" but why has he added, " For 
the Lord God Almighty is the temple 
thereof, and the Lamb?" If no temple be 
required, why is God himself said to be the 
Temple of that city, and not only God, 
but the " Lamb " also ? Or who shall ex 
plain for us, how God and the Lamb are 
called " Temples " in heaven? And what 
use hath this temple in heaven? In the holy 
Scripture it is usual for one sentence to 
serve as an explanation of another, or an 
obscure passage to be made intelligible by 
another that is clearer. In the 90th Psalm 
it is said: "He who dwelleth in the aid 
of the Most High, shall abide under the 
protection of the God of heaven." The 
meaning of these words is: he who is 
united to God by a sure confidence, abides 
as it were in God, in whom he dwells se 
curely, and is protected from all evil. The 


same may be said of prayer and praise ; for 
he that hy an intimate reverence is joined 
to God, makes, as it were, a house for him 
self in God, that so whilst living in it, he 
may praise God and pray unto Him as he 
ought. Thus, therefore, the Lord God 
Almighty is the "Temple" in heaven of 
the holy city, since these blessed citizens, 
most attentively considering the omnipo 
tence of God, and thus united to Him by an 
intimate reverence, dwell in Him, and offer 
Him worthy praise. So also when they 
consider the merits of Christ, who as an 
innocent Lamb delivered himself an obla 
tion, and a victim to God as an odour of 
sweetness, they are intimately united with 
Him by love : and reposing in Him as in a 
temple, they pray for us, and doubtless find 
the eyes and ears of God open, so that 
whatsoever they ask they obtain for us. 
But if, to praise God and to intercede for 
us, these blessed citizens dwell in Him and 
in Christ, as in a temple, what must we do 
who neither see God nor Christ ? ! 
would that by the grace of God, we could 
so praise Him and pray unto Him, that 
being first united to Him by true humility, 
and a deep reverence from the consideration 
of His Supreme Majesty, we could dwell in 
Him as in a most sacred temple ! Then 
not carelessly or with distraction, but most 
attentively and devoutly should we sing our 
grateful praises to God, and offer up to the 
Lord prayers that would benefit ourselves 


and our brethren ; then would these words 
be fulfilled: " The sacrifice of praise shall 

florify me : and there is the way by which 
will show him the salvation of God." 
(Psalm xlix.) 

The divine praises, offered up on the 
altar of the heart by the fire of charity, 
ascend as an odour of wonderful sweetness ; 
and they obtain for us, that our path may 
be opened and our heart enlightened, to 
behold the salvation which God hath pre 
pared for those that love Him. But all 
these benefits those miserable men lose, 
who pray and sing the divine praises with 
distraction, and a voluntary dryness of 
heart; they participate with others in the 
labour of singing and praying, but they en 
joy not the divine consolation, nor a fore 
taste of heavenly happiness. 



CONCERNING the meat and drink of the 
city of God, we find these words in the 
Apocalypse : " And he showed me a river 
of the water of life clear as crystal, pro 
ceeding from the throne of God and of the 
Lamb. And in the midst of the street 
thereof, and on both sides of the river was 
the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding 


its fruits every month; and the leaves of 
the tree were for the healing of the nations/ 
(chap, xxii.) I am afraid, that some, judg 
ing from these words, may wonder at the 
scantiness of food in heaven, and. think that 
more substantial meat is to be found in this 
land of our exile ; since in the Apocalypse 
we read of nothing, but the fruit of one tree 
for food, and the water of a river for drink. 
But those who suppose such a thing should 
remember, that in the terrestrial paradise, 
where doubtless there was better food than 
we have now, Adam was only allowed to 
eat fruit and herbs, and drink water ; but 
this fruit and water were far superior to all 
the food and wine of this life, though not so 
in any degree, to the "tree of life/ and 
the living water of the heavenly paradise. 
In this vale of misery, all men are sickly 
and have their sense of taste corrupted by a 
kind of bitterness, and therefore to remove 
this nausea, they have invented various 
kinds of food ; but this variety so lessens 
the nausea, as to increase the disease. In 
the terrestrial paradise however, men were 
healthy, for the sweetness and wholesome- 
ness of the food and of the water were such, 
as to be able perfectly to nourish them, and 
to their great delight, to keep them in con 
tinual health ; we may add also, that their 
food was abundantly supplied, without the 
labour and toil of procuring it. But the 
living water and "the tree of life" in the 
city of God, are not like the meat and drink 


of man in common with animals, such as 
we have in this world ; but so excellent, so 
great, so divine are they, that the Prophet 
sings, " They shall be inebriated with the 
plenty of thy house, and thou shalt make 
them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure." 
(Psalm xxxv.) Neither is this meat or 
drink any thing corporal, but it is spiritual 
and divine, of which we read in Ecclesias- 
ticus: "She will give him the water of 
wholesome wisdom to drink ;" and the^tree 
of life is that bread, of which it is written 
in the same place, " with the bread of life 
and understanding she shall feed him." 
(chap. 15.) And as St. Augustine teacheth, 
"in corporal things food is one thing, and 
drink another," but in spiritual matters, food 
and drink are the same ; that is, wisdom, 
or understanding, 01^ intelligence, which 
signify the same thing, is food that nourishes 
and drink that extinguishes thirst. But 
by the " livingVater," wisdom also may be 
signified, and by the " tree of life," charity ; 
thus St. John in his first Epistle, " We 
know that we have passed from death to 
life, because we love the brethren. He that 
loveth not, abideth in death." (chap, iii.) 
To love as well as to understand, are both 
spiritual actions ; wherefore, the drink of 
the saints in the city of ^God, is to drink of 
the living river that springs from the foun 
tain of life, which is God; this means, to 
enjoy a participation of that ^ wisdom by 
which God is wise, and which is most pro- 


found, high, and unspeakable. The food 
of the same saints is to eat of the " tree of 
life ;" that is, to enjoy a share of that 
ineffable love, whereby goodness itself being 
clearly seen can be loved, and by which 
God loves Himself, who is infinitely good, 
and the fountain of all goodness. What 
these signify, we cannot, nor shall we be 
able to understand, until we arrive at this 
blessed city. But when St. John says, 
ff that on both sides of the river is the tree 
of life, yielding its fruit every month," we 
must understand the passage metaphori 
cally, that by a comparison taken from 
corporal things we may understand the 
spiritual. The blessed Evangelist intended 
to point out to us the tree of infinite good 
ness; and that he might do this, he des 
cribed the tree which grew at the bank of 
the river, and which from its excellence, 
being continually watered, produced fruit 
every month, not every yoar as others do. 
Neither does he wish to intimate, that there 
is only one tree, but many of the same kind, 
which are so planted on both sides of the 
river flowing through the middle of the 
city, that there is little space between the 
one and the other ; and in this manner, the 
view of the whole city can be enjoyed, and 
the flow of the water as well as the fruit of 
the tree. The goodness of the tree is sig 
nified by the words tree of life ; its fruitful- 
ness by the production of new fruit every 
month. Hence it is, that the inhabitants 


of the city always have fresh and ripe fruit 
fresh, from having it every month ripe, 
from having had it the month immediately 
preceding: it is never rotten, never dry, 
never insipid. All this signifies, that the 
food of the blessed, (that is, the wisdom by 
which they perfectly see God, and the 
charity whereby they perfectly love Him,) 
is the best, .and never faileth. That which 
the holy Evangelist adds concerning the 
leaves of the tree, "for the healing of the 
nations/ seems to mean, that in this our 
exile, the fruit of the tree of life itself will 
never be given unto us, but only its leaves ; 
these, however, although they confer not 
eternal life, are yet useful in " healing" our 
disorders, the concupiscence of the flesh, 
the concupiscence of the eyes, the pride of 
life, &c., by which all men are enfeebled 
more or less. These leaves are the divine 
revelations of the prophets and apostles, 
sent to us from heaven. ! how sweet an 
odour would these leaves scatter, if we had 
the spirit of the Lord. Read the Prophets, 
the Psalmist, the Gospels, the Epistles of 
SS. Peter, Paul, John, James, Jude, all 
these breathe humility, charity, and con- 
tinency, of which the philosophers make no 

Wherefore, Christian soul, diligently 

* St. Jerome also says, " Oro te, Frater charissime, inter 
hrec vivere, ista meditari, nihil aliud nosse, /lihil quserere; 
nonne tibi yidetur jam hie in terris Regni coai^stis habitacu- 
lum." (Epist. ad Fauliimm.) g 


peruse these leaves, make unto thee from 
them a daily medicine ; and imagine what 
must be the fruit thereof. And, then despis 
ing the husks of swine, ardently sigh for the 
fruit of Eternal life which is above ; think 
of it, and as long as it is deferred, let the 
memory of it never depart from thee. 



WE have already considered one part of 
the heavenly Jerusalem, let us now consider 
another part of the structure. A city not 
only includes foundations, gates, walls, 
streets, but also a body of citizens, who 
according to the variety of their functions, 
are called the foundations, gates or walls. 
Hence perhaps a city may more properly be 
named a collection of citizens under the same 
laws, rather than a collection of houses 
within the same walls. Thus Cicero speaks 
in the Dream of Scipio : " An assembly of 
men united by laws are called citizens." 
Now concerning the heavenly city, which 
consists of citizens, not only St. John men 
tions it, but also St. Peter in his first 
Epistle, and St. Paul in his Epistle to the 
Ephesians. We have read in the Apoca 
lypse, that in the twelve gates were twelve 
angels, and thereon were in scribed the names 


of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, 
and in the twelve foundations the twelve 
names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 
In the first Epistle of St. Peter we read, 
" Unto whom coming as to a living stone, 
rejected indeed by men, but chosen and 
made honourable by God; be you also as 
living stones built up." (chap, ii.) And in 
St. Paul s Epistle to the Ephesians, " Now 
therefore you are no more strangers and 
foreigners, but you are fellow-citizens with 
the saints, and domestics of God, built 
upon the foundation of the apostles and 
prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the 
chief corner-stone." (chap. ii. ver. 19.) In 
the first place, therefore, the city of God 
has for its foundations the apostles and 
prophets, because their doctrine supports 
the whole fabric. Faith is the beginning 
of salvation, but faith has been revealed by 
the prophets and apostles, either by writing 
or preaching the mysteries of the blessed 
Trinity, the incarnation, the resurrection of 
the dead, everlasting glory, eternal tor 
ments ; others also, which are above human 
reason, we have learned from the apostles 
and prophets, to whom God had revealed 

But although faith has no place amongst 
the blessed, since what they believed they 
see, and what is seen is not believed, but 
known and understood ; yet the apostles 
and prophets are called the "Foundations" 
of the heavenly city, because faith being 


the beginning of salvation, is consequently 
the beginning of beatitude. But since St. 
Peter saith, that we as living stones are 
built upon Christ, and St. Paul in his first 
Epistle to the Corinthians, "For other 
foundation no man can lay, but that which 
is laid, which is Christ Jesus;" therefore 
there is but one foundation, because in the 
twelve foundations of the apostles Christ 
existed, as St. Austin teacheth in his expla 
nation of the 86th Psalm. He himself or 
His Spirit spoke by them and taught them : 
hear the apostle Paul, "Do you seek a 
proof of Christ that speaketh in me :" hear 
Christ himself, " He that heareth you, 
heareth me;" and again, "It is not you 
that speak, but the Spirit of your Father 
that speaketh in you." It is certain that 
the Spirit of the Father and the Son is one 
and the same; hence we may conclude, 
that not only the twelve Apostles are ^to be 
included in " the twelve foundations," but 
all those likewise who first preached the 
same faith ; otherwise St. Paul himself and 
St. Barnabas, and the seventy disciples who 
were not in the number of the Apostles, 
could not be called foundations, nor even 
the Prophets themselves; and we should 
make the apostle a liar, (which God forbid,) 
who hath said, "that we are built on ? the 
foundation of the apostles and prophets." 

But here occurs a rather difficult ques 
tion; how can Christ be truly the founda 
tion of the building, when he is called by 


the apostle " the chief corner-stone;" and 
David says of Him, that He is exalted to 
be the "head of the corner?" How can 
the same stone be in the foundation and at 
the top? But if we remember that these 
expressions are metaphorical, we shall 
easily understand, that to one person con 
trary names may be applied, on account of 
the diversity of his functions. Now not 
only Christ, who is both God and man, but 
every prelate is the foundation and the head 
of his Church, because as " the foundation/ 
he ought to bear the weight of the building, 
the infirmities of all, and therefore he ought 
to be below all; and yet as " head" of the 
building, he is appointed to rule all, com 
mand all, and be supported by all. Much 
more justly, therefore, can Christ our Lord 
be called the foundation of the Church, 
because He supports us all, and rules us by 
His power and authority ; at the same time, 
He is placed as the "Head," to connect the 
two points, and of the Jews and Gentiles 
to form one people, to rule and govern all. 



LET us now in order consider the gates 
of the heavenly Jerusalem. According to 
the general exposition of interpreters, the 


twelve Apostles are to be understood by the 
gates : in this explanation they follow St. 
Augustine in his exposition of the 86th 
Psalm. But when St. John in the Apoca 
lypse speaks of the "gates/ he mentions 
twelve angels and the twelve tribes of thei 
children of Israel, whose names are written 
on the twelve gates of the city of God : but 
in that verse he makes no mention of the 
apostles. But the opinion of St. Augustine 
and of those who follow him is not there 
fore erroneous", for St. John speaks mysti 
cally, not literally as a prophet, not as an 
historian. The whole description is full of 
mystical significations.* The land of pro 
mise, according to all interpreters, was a 
figure of the heavenly Jerusalem. Abra 
ham was the first to whom the promise was 
made : " All the land which thou seest, I 
will give to thee, and to thy seed for ever." 
(Genesis xiii. 15.) And St. Paul, in his 
Epistle to the Galatians : To Abraham 
were the promises made, and to his seed;" 
and a little lower he adds : "But God gave 
it to Abraham by promise." Isaac alone 
was the heir of Abraham, Ismael being 
excluded, who was the son of the free 
woman. Thus the Scripture, "For the 

* It. was a saying of St. Jerome, "that the Apocalypse 
contained as many mysteries as it had words." It would 
have been well, had Newton, Faber, Bickersteth, Keith, &c., 
remembered these words, when they were publishing their 
opinions on various chapters of the Apocalypse. If St. 
Jerome could not understand tins mysterious book, much, 
less could the above mentioned writers 


son of the bond-woman shall not be heir 
with my son Isaac." Jacob alone was the 
heir of Isaac, Esau, his brother, being ex 
cluded, who sold his birthright. Hence the 
prophet Malachias says, " I have loved 
Jacob, but have hated Esau ;" and these 
words the apostle repeats in his Epistle to 
the Romans. The heirs of Jacob were all 
his sons, twelve in number, not one of whom 
was excluded; and thus the land of pro 
mise was divided amongst the twelve tribes 
of Israel, as we learn from the Book of 
Josue. This is, therefore, the reason why 
St. John said in the Apocalypse, that on 
the twelve gates were inscribed the names 
of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; 
because the entrance into the promised land 
was a right of inheritance, which belonged 
to all the children of Israel alone. But, as 
we mentioned above,, St. John speaks figu 
ratively, so that by the twelve tribes of 
Israel are meant the true Israelites, not 
according to the flesh, but according to 
faith and the spirit ; and therefore the 
twelve Apostles are included, as well as 
their spiritual children. For, as St. Paul 
clearly teaches us in his Epistle to the 
Romans: "All are not Israelites that are 
of Israel, neither are all they that are of the 
seed of Abraham, children/ (chap. ix. 6.) 
The same Apostle compares Israel to a 
tree, whose many branches are broken on 
account of unbelief, and others ingrafted 
by reason of faith. Thus, when the Gen- 


tiles were converted, they began to be 
children of Israel, and many of the Jews 
ceased to be time Israelites. St. Augustine 
thus proves this point at length :* " Is not 
this a wonderful and deep mystery, that 
many, not born of Israel, should belong to 
Israel, and many not children, though they 
were of the seed of Abraham? How are 
they not ? How are they sons ? It is, that 
they are not sons of promise*, belonging to 
the grace of Christ, but sons of the flesh, 
bearing an empty name ; and thus, neither 
are they of Israel as we are, nor are we of 
Israel like they are : for we are according 
to a spiritual regeneration, they according 
to a carnal one In the grand-chil 
dren of Abraham, the sons of Isaac viz., 
Jacob and Esau this great and profound 
mystery appears, of which the Apostle 
speaks when he had mentioned the sons 
promised to Abraham as belonging to the 
grace of Christ. This the apostolic and 
catholic doctrine clearly teaches, that the 
Jews belong to Sara, according to the flesh, 
but the Isrnaelites to Agar ; and, accord 
ing to the spirit, Christians belong to Sara, 
Jews to Agar ; to Esau likewise, according 
to the flesh, who is also called Edom, the 
nation of the Idumeans ; to Jacob, who is 
also called Israel, the nation of the Jews ; 
but, according to the mystery of the Spirit, 
the Jews to Esau belong, to Israel the 

* Epistola ad Asellicum. 


Christians." Thus St. Augustine clearly 
proves, that Christians are true Israelites, 
not according to the flesh, but according to 
the Spirit ; and that thereby they are heirs 
of the land of promise, which is in heaven. 
Wherefore, the gates of the heavenly Jeru 
salem have inscribed on them the names of 
the twelve tribes of Israel, because the gate 
by which we enter the land of promise is 
the inheritance of the Sons of God, who 
alone are true and sincere ChristianS, the 
children of the blessed Apostles. These are 
signified by the true Israelites, that is, the 
sons of the patriarch Jacob ; and when St. 
John adds, that on the gates were twelve 
angels, he means that angels are the guar 
dians of those gates, whose office is to pre 
vent any one entering, that has not the 
right of inheritance. For this reason, per 
haps, St. Michael, the archangel, is repre 
sented with scales in his hands, because 
by the angels under him he examines the 
merits of those who aspire to this heavenly 



THE rest of the building consists of 
stones ; and these are all the faithful, who 
are built up," according to the expression 


of St. Peter and St. Paul in their Epistles ; 
and since this part of the building regards 
every one, it will be very desirable for us 
to remember the conditions or qualities 
which those must possess who desire to be 
built on the foundation of Christ and the 
apostles, under the chief corner-stone, 
Christ Jesus; that so they may not only be 
in the heavenly city, but may also them 
selves become the highest and most happy 
city 8f God. 

Three conditions are requisite to be built 
on so noble a foundation: 1st. That we be 
stones ; 2nd. That we be living ones ; 3rd. 
That we be well polished, and be cut 
square. We must therefore be stones, not 
wood, or hay, or stubble, that we may make 
the wall solid that is, we should be sober 
and firm, persevering in faith, in charity, 
in humility, and obedience to the Com 
mandments, and not allow ourselves to be 
carried about " by every wind of doctrine," 
as heretics dp ; neither should we be carried 
away by various inordinate desires, as bad 
Catholics are very often. These are not 
used as stones by the builders of the eter 
nal city, for they serve only for cottages 
which are easily destroyed. In the second 
place, we should be " living stones," as St. 
Peter admonishes us, that is, full of charity 
and spiritual life, such as Christ is, " the 
corner stone," who, although He died once 
according to the flesh, yet He always lived 
according to the Spirit, and after death rose 


again to die no more. Dead stones build 
dead edifices, that is, corporal ; but a spiri 
tual house, or rather the city of our great 
King, which is spiritual and celestial, 
requires spiritual stones, and therefore 
"living" ones. Thirdly, we must be square 
and polished stones, not unpolished or 
shapeless, because thus it becometh the 
building of a city that is superior to all 
others. So Arphaxat the king built the 
city of Ecbatana of square and polished 
stones, as we read in the book of Judith ; 
and if King Solomon erected a temple to 
the Lord so beautifully adorned, what ought 
to be the building of that Eternal city, which 
so far exceeds all other cities ? But this 
beautifying of our building must be done on 
earth, not in heaven ; and of this the tem 
ple of Solomon was a figure. Thus we read 
in the third book of Kings : "And the house 
when it was in building was built of stones 
hewed and made ready, so that there was 
neither hammer nor axe, nor any tool of 
iron heard in the house when it was build 
ing." (chap. vii. 7.) The reason was, be 
cause the stones were cut and prepared at 
a distance from the house of the Lord ; and 
thus they were so perfectly polished, that, 
when they were brought to the temple, 
they were laid in their proper places with 
out the sound of the hammer being heard. 
In the heavenly Jerusalem, also, the sound 
of the hammer will not be heard, because 
there no persecution will be, no tribulation 


no penitential labour, no sighing, no sor 
row, no sadness. Wherefore, those stones 
that are chosen for the glory of the 
heavenly mansions, ought in this vale of 
tears to be well cut and polished : thus the 
Church sings : 

" Tunsionibus, pressuris, 
Expoliti Lapides, 
Suis coaptantur locis, 
Per manus Artificis, 
Disponuntur permansuri, 
Sacris sedificiis. " 

Here penitential labour is necessary for 
us, because "we all offend in many things/* 
as St. James affirmeth: here our carnal 
concupiscence must be tamed, our self-will 
conquered, our body chastised and brought 
into subjection : here with indefatigable 
diligence must we oppose the " shield of 
faith" against the fiery darts of impure 
spirits. Therefore, if we cannot bear the 
stroke of the hammer, how can we, being 
unpolished, be admitted by the heavenly 
Architect to form part of the building ? ! 
if men could but comprehend how much 

ood they deprive themselves of by flying 
om this hammer, and being unwilling to 
endure anything that is^ difficult, bitter, 
and contrary to their inclination, assuredly 
they would then alter their mind, and fast 
often instead of having their banquets; 
throwing aside their soft garments, they 
would put on sackcloth, and give themselves 


up to watching and prayer, instead of in 
dulging in vain talk ; and if they received 
any injury from false brethren, or from open 
enemies, they would not think of revenge, 
but would give thanks to God, and earnestly 
pray to Him for their calumniators and 
persecutors: this they would do, because 
" The sufferings of this time are not worthy 
to be compared with the glory to come, 
that shall be revealed in us;" and again, 
That which is at present momentary and 
light of our tribulation, worketh for us 
above measure exceedingly an eternal weight 
of glory." 

And truly, if we consider the "living 
stones" that have preceded us in the hea 
venly building, we shall see that all were 
polished by many strokes of the hammer. 
Christ Himself, " the corner-stone," and 
most precious, who stood in need of no 
polishing, yet suffered for us that He might 
leave us an example : " Who, when He was 
reviled, did not revile ; when He suffered, 
He threatened not." All the Apostles 
could say with St. Paul : " Even unto this 
hour we both hunger and thirst, and are 
naked and are buffeted, and have no fixed 
abode : and we labour, working with our 
hands: we are reviled, and we bless; we 
are persecuted, and we suffer it. We are 
blasphemed, and we entreat ; we are made 
as the refuse of this world, the offscouring 
of all even until now." (1 Epistle to the 
Corinthians, chap, iv.) What shall I say of 


the martyrs ? Did not all ascend unto the 
city of the heavenly Jerusalem, after they 
had been "cut and polished" by many 
tribulations and most cruel deaths ? I 
omit mentioning the holy confessors, ancho 
rets, virgins, widows, and all others who 
served God. Unless these had crucified 
their flesh, with its vices and concupiscen 
ces, and had waged war against themselves, 
they would not have been admitted to the 
heavenly building. But this polishing of 
" living stones" was necessary, not only 
after the coming of our Saviour, but before 
also, and from the t beginning of the world 
itself. The first living stone was Abel, 
cruelly slain by his brother Gain; after 
wards came the holy patriarch Joseph, sold 
by his brothers. The angel Raphael said 
to Tobias also : Because thou wast 
pleasing to God, it was necessary that 
temptation should try thee." He did not 
say, because thou wast a sinner, and hate 
ful to God, it was necessary that you should 
be punished with blindness and poverty ; 
but he said, because thou wast pleasing 
unto God, being just and holy, therefore, as 
a living stone destined for the heavenly 
building, it was necessary that you should 
bear the stroke of the hammer. Who 
amongst the prophets did not suffer perse 
cution from the impious ? What torments 
did not the holy Machabees endure ? Let 
us hear the apostle Paul speaking of the 
saints in the old Law, in his Epistle to tha 


Hebrews : And others had trials of 
mockeries and stripes, moreover, also, of 
bonds and prisons. They were stoned, 
they were cut asunder, they were tempted, 
they were put to death by the sword, they 
wandered about in sheep-skins, in goat 
skins, in mountains, and in the dens and 
caves of the earth." (chap. xi. 37, 38.) 
What wilt thou say, Christian soul, to these 
words ? If the hammer of the builder did 
not spare those of whom the world was not 
worthy, on account of their great sanctity, 
that so they might be fitly polished for the 
celestial building, what will become of thee, 
and of those like thee, who indulge in sin, 
and consider penitential labours too heavy? 
One of these two things is necessary: either 
that thou suffer in this life or in purgatory, 
or be deprived of a place in that Edifice 
above, and made to bear for ever the ham 
mer of hell. Why, therefore, dost thou not 
choose (if thou be wise) rather to endure 
the short and momentary tribulations of 
this life, than to be condemned to future 
ones, eternal and intolerable ? 

Despise not the purgatorial punishments 
of the world to come ; although they are 
not eternal, yet are they more grievous, and 
often of longer duration, than any torment 
of this life. Hear St. Augustine s Expia 
tion of the 37th Psalm : " It is said, thou 
shalt ba saved, yet so as by fiie ; and be 
cause it is said, * Thou shalt be saved/ this 
fire is contemned; yet it will be more 


grievous than any torment a man can 
endure in this life/ He also adds, " that 
the torments will be more severe than the 
punishments of robbers and the torments 
of the martyrs :" wherefore, those are mad 
who despise the fire of purgatory, and dread 
the tribulations of this present life/ And 
because in the mouth of two or three wit 
nesses every word shall stand, hear St. Gre 
gory on the third penitential Psalm : " I 
consider this transitory fire to be more in 
tolerable than all present tribulations ;" 
hear St. Bernard in his Sermon on the 
death of Humbert, a monk: "But this 
know, that, after this life, in purgatory will 
be required a hundred-fold what hath here 
been neglected, even unto the last far 
thing/ Hear, in fine, St. Anselm, in his 
Explanation of the third chapter of St. 
Paul s First Epistle to the Corinthians: 
We must know that this fire is more 
grievous than anything a man can endure 
in this life ; all the torments of the world are 
mild in comparison with it, and yet men to 

* St. Teresa mentions in her " Life," having seen in Pur 
gatory the souls of many persons of remarkable virtue; 
some in a secular, others in a religious state, of her ovvr, 
nunnery and of several other orders ; though she says, their 
penitential and holy lives, their patience, their great regu 
larity in their convent, their tears and humility at their 
death, had persuaded her they would be admitted straight 
to glory. " But," (she continues,) "amongst all the souls I 
have seen, I have not known any one to have escaped 
purgatory except three, F. Peter of Alcantara, F. Peter 
Ivagnez, a religious man of the order of St. Dominic, and a 
Carmelite Friar." (See her own life, chap. 38, translated 
\>y the pious Mr. Woodhead. 2 vols. 4to. 1669.) 


avoid them will do whatever they are com 
manded by others. How much better 
would it be to do what God commands, that 
so we might not suffer more grievous tor 
ments !" 



HAVING spoken of the city of God, it only 
remains that we now explain in a few words 
what is especially required, as the condition 
of our being enrolled citizens of this most 
blessed kingdom. This can be mentioned 
in one word ; that we renounce the world, 
and live in it as strangers and pilgrims. 
We cannot be citizens of the world and of 
heaven at the same time ; and there is no 
one who flies from the world, who is not 
immediately received into the midst of the 
city of God. But let us consider the whole 
subject more at length. 

Two cities are mentioned in the Holy 
Scripture; the city of this world which 
commenced in Cain, for he was the first 
who founded one, as we read in the book of 
Genesis; and the city of heaven which 
began in Abel, the founder of which was 
not Abel, but God, as St. Paul mentions. 
Babylon was a figure of the first, which 
signifies "confusion;* but of the latter, 


Jerusalem was typical, the City of our great 
king, which^ means the "vision of peace." 
Those are inhabitants of the earthly city 
who dwell therein, not only in body, but 
also in heart, who love the earth, pant after 
its pleasures, struggle for them, contend for 
them. Of this city the devil is prince, who 
having been cast down from heaven, pos 
sessed the government of the earth. For 
although our Lord said when his Passion 
drew nigh, " now is the judgment of the 
world, now shall the prince of this world be 
cast out ;" and although He truly cast him 
out by His cross, and triumphed over him, 
according to St. Paul in his Epistle to the 
Colossians, " And despoiling the principali 
ties and powers, he hath exposed them 
confidently in open show, triumphing over 
them in himself;" yet we must not suppose 
that the devil was entirely "cast out" of 
the world, or that he has completely lost 
the dominion of the world, but only that he 
was ^ cast out of all those, and has lost 
dominion over them who united themselves 
with Christ and his heavenly city, and fled 
from this earthly one. But that the devil 
hath yet power over the city of this world, 
the Apostle teaches us in his Epistle to the 
Ephesians: "For our wrestling is not 
against flesh and blood, but against princi 
palities and powers, against the rulers of 
the world of this darkness, against the spirits 
of wickedness in the high places." (chap. vi. 
12.) Wherefore Satan, together with his 


satellites, yet has power in the world, and is 
the "ruler" thereof; that is, of earthly- 
minded men, inhabitants of this earthly 
city, of which St. John says, " It is seated 
in wickedness." As if he had said, the 
world is united with its chief, who is wicked, 
or the world is under the power and domin 
ion of a " wicked" demon. 

But the inhabitants of the heavenly city, 
are those who reign happily in its kingdom, 
and those also, who although they dwell on. 
earth in their mortal body, are far from it 
in their heart, for their conversation is in 
heaven, and " they desire to be dissolved 
and to be with Christ. 9 But because whilst 
on earth they are mixed up with its citizens, 
therefore the Holy Scripture saith, that they 
are in the world, but not of the world, and 
in the world, not as citizens, but as strangers 
and pilgrims ; thus St. Peter teacheth, 
" Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers 
and pilgrims to refrain yourselves from car 
nal desires which war against the soul;" 
on the contrary, the citizens of the world 
are said in Holy Scripture to be, " Strangers 
to the Testament, having no hope of the 
promise, and without God in this world." 
These words St. Paul makes use of in his 
Epistle to the Ephesians. Since, then, this 
is the truth, let no one deceive himself, let 
no one imagine that he can be a citizen of 
the world and a citizen of heaven at the 
same time. Citizens of the world are of 
the world, citizens of heaven are not of the 


world. To be of the world, and not to be 
of the world, are contradictory terms, there 
fore they cannot be united. Hence those 
whom earthly objects delight, can have no 
place in the heavenly city, unless they first 
flee from the world, unless they renounce 
it, unless they despise its pleasures. 

And since these considerations are impor 
tant and understood by few, or not con 
sidered as they ought to be, therefore that 
no one may plead ignorance at the Last day, 
the apostles and evangelists inculcate and 
repeat them over and over again ; hear our 
Lord : " You are of this world, I am not of 
this world ;" and to the Apostles He says, 
" If you had been of the world, the world 
would love its own: but because you are 
not of the world, bat I have chosen you out 
of the world, therefore the world hateth 
you ;" hear St. Paul: "The wisdom of this 
world is foolishness with God;" and again, 

" You must needs go out of this world 

that we be not condemned with it;" hear 
St. James: " Know you not that the friend 
ship of this world is the enemy of God? 
Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of 
this world, becometh an enemy of God;" 
and St. Peter saith: " Fly the corruption 
of that concupiscence which is in the 
world:" and St. John; "Love not the 
world, nor the things which are in the 
world. If any man love the world, the 
chanty of the Father is not in him." Hear, 
in fine, our Lord himself, in his prayer to his 


Father : " I pray for them, not for the 
world do I pray ; but for them whom thou 

hast given me And the world hath 

hated them, because they are not of the 
world, as I also am not of the world." 
Here we can most clearly perceive, that the 
world is thus condemned and excommuni 
cated by God, that Christ does not pray 
for it all. But if Christ does not pray for 
the world, how can He say in another place, 
" God so loved the world as to give his own 
beloved Son?" Doth the Father love the 
world, and the Son hate it ? Or how doth 
the Son exclude the world from His prayer, 
whom the Father doth not exclude from 
His love ? St. Augustine, explaining this 
question, says, that the $ world for which 
Christ did not pray, signifies only the 
wicked, as St. Paul mentions in his first 
Epistle to the Corinthians ; " That we be 
not condemned with this world." It may 
also be said that Christ did not pray for the 
world, because what He then was asking for 
the Apostles, did not in the least regard the 
world ; for He prayed for the gift of perse 
verance : " Keep them in thy name." And 
at the same time He prayed that they 
might possess eternal glory, when He said, 
(t Father, I will that where I am, they also 
whom thou hast given me may be with me, 
that they may see my glory." (St. John, 
chap. xvii. 24.) Now these words cannot 
apply to the world, for it is not fit for the 
kingdom of heaven, unless it be first puri- 


fied ; as a man covered with dirt and mire, 
would not .be fit to enter the chamber of a 
king. But God loved the world, and deli 
vered his Son for it, that he might cleanse 
it, and make it fit for his kingdom. Where 
fore Christ prayed for his enemies, not that 
they might remain in their wickedness, but 
that his Father might pardon them, and 
thereby cleanse them, that so they might not 
be of the world. This our Saviour observed 
in his prayer, when he said, " Not for the 
world do I pray," for he added a little 
lower, " That the world may believe that 
thou hast sent me." The conclusion, 
therefore, is, Christ prayed for his friends, 
not for the world, because unless we first 
leave the world before wo leave the body, 
we cannot arrive at the kingdom of God. 

Wherefore, whoever loveth this heavenly 
city, let him hasten to depart from the 
world, lest the last day suddenly come upon 
him, and he be snatched from life, when 
there will be no hope of his salvation. And 
when in spirit he shall have left the world, 
let him forget it and its pleasures, and re 
member continually the city of the Lord 
alone, vowing with the prophet David : " If 
I forget thee, Jerusalem, let my right 
hand be forgotten. Let my tongue cleave 
to my jaws, if I do not remember thee : if I 
make not Jerusalem the beginning of my 
joy." (Psalm cxxxvi.) This is a true 
mark of being citizens of the eternal city, 
if truly from our heart we prefer rather to 


be deprived of our tongue and of our hands, 
than to do or say any thing against the 
love of God our Father, and our heavenly 
country: and if "the beginning of our joy " 
be indeed that City, which maketh its inha 
bitants so blessed as not to take pleasure in 
any earthly happiness, and the mere re 
membrance and expectation of future joys, 
be alone sufficient to gladden our heart in 
this our exile. 

We will now conclude this book with a 
passage from St. Augustine, that those who 
may not perhaps believe my words, may a,t 
least credit those of so great a man. In his 
Explanation of the 61st Psalm, he men 
tions what are the true marks of the citizens 
of the world, and of the inhabitants of the 
city of God : " All who seek after earthly 
things," he saith, " all who prefer the hap 
piness of the world before God, all who 
mind their own interests, and not those of 
Jesus Christ, belong to that city which is 
mystically called Babylon, and have for 
their king, the Devil ; but all who mind 
the things that are above; who meditate 
on heavenly truths ; who live in the world 
with fear lest they should offend God, and 
who when they do offend him, are not 
ashamed to confess their sins ; the mild, the 
holy, and just, and good, all these belong 
to that city which hath Christ for its 







" I REJOICED at the things that were said 
to me : We shall go into the house of the 
Lord." (Psalm cxxi.) That good and 
faithful servant has abundant and unspeak 
able cause to rejoice, who hath either dili 
gently laboured in the vineyard, or multi 
plied his ^ talents in business, or was the 
first to win the prize in the race, or who 
hath gained a crown in Avar or single com 
bat, who hath carefully fed the flock en 
trusted to him, and courageously defended 
them from the wolves: and now having 
completed all his labours, he enters with joy 
into the house of his Lord. But let us 
consider why that is called a House/ 
which before was named a city: it is not 
because the house is narrow, and therefore 
doth not deserve the name of a city: on 
the contrary, it is infinitely more extensive 


than any city or kingdom. Hear how the 
prophet Baruch exclaims : f Israel, how 
great is the house of God, and how vast is 
the place of his possession ! It is great, 
and hath no end: it is high and immense/ 
(chap. iii. 24.) But why is the House so 
great? The first reason is, because the 
blessed although occupying every part of 
the kingdom of heaven, are all the familiar 
friends and domestics of God. For if men 
tion were only made of a kingdom or city, 
it might be supposed by some, that there 
would be many in the city of our God, who 
could never see him, never speak unto 
him, except they gained admittance by 
other greater saints. But this is not the 
case ; for all behold God always ; they hold 
converse with Him, they speak with Him 
face to face whether seraphim or cheru 
bim, apostles or prophets, or inferior angels 
and saints. Of our angel-guardians who 
belong to the last order of spirits, our Lord 
saith : " Their angels in heaven always see 
the face of my Father who is in heaven." 
And St. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, 
tells us, that all the blessed are not only 
citizens of the saints, but also " domestics 
of God." Wherefore, their habitation is 
not only called a city, but likewise a 
House/ There are many mansions in 
heaven, some high, some low ; there is also 
a diversity of crowns, some great, some in 
ferior, according to the degree of merit : but 
yet all the citizens are blessed and happy, 


and all clean of heart, and full of charity. 
Wherefore, every one in that House sees 
God, and converses with him as a domestic 
and friend ; although in earthly kingdoms 
and cities, there are many who can never 
see the king, and very few who are admitted 
to his friendship, or to an interview. Ano 
ther reason appears to be, because although 
in a city many do see the king and speak 
to him, yet all are not his sons and heirs, 
but only those who live in the palace, and 
are acknowledged to be his sons and heirs. 
But in the kingdom of heaven and in the 
city of our God, all the saints, without any 
exception, are true sons of God, brothers of 
Christ, heirs of God, and co-heirs with 
Christ: neither do the great despise the 
inferior, nor is there any envy or jealousy 
amongst them. And when our Lord 
taught us to recite daily the " Our Father," 
he therein excluded no one : and when he 
will say at the last day, "Come, ye blessed 
of my Father, possess you the kingdon, 
prepared for you from the foundation of the 
world/ he will not exclude any one of the 
just : and when the Apostle said to the Ro 
mans, " Whosoever are led by the Spirit of 
God, they are the sons of God ;" and again, 
"For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to 
our spirit, that we are the sons of God. 
And if sons, heirs also ; heirs indeed of 
God, and joint heirs with Christ," no one 
is excluded, neither great nor little, provided 
he possess the Spirit of God, and suffer him- 


self to be led by him. This is also given to 
all who have been regenerated in Christ, 
and who shall persevere in faith, hope, and 
charity. St. Peter also, in his first Epistle, 
promises to the regenerated/ " an inheri 
tance incorruptible and undefiled, that can 
not fade, reserved in heaven." In fine, St. 
John in his Epistle says to all the Just, 
without exception : " Behold, what manner 
of charity the Father hath bestowed upon 
us, that we should be called, and should be 
the sons of God." (chap, iii.) 

Justly, therefore, is the habitation of the 
blessed called a House^and not merely a 
city and kingdom, wherein all are sons and 
heirs of our great King, and all beloved by 
Him as his sons, and by Christ as his 
brothers: with reason may they exclaim 
with the prophet: " How good and pleasant 
is it, for brethren to dwell ^ together in 
unity." What greater happiness can be 
conceived, than to converse with innu 
merable angels, to be loved by them with a 
most sincere love, to be treated as a 
brother, to be embraced as a brother ! 



ANOTHER reason may be assigned, why 
the habitation of the saints is called a 


House, because it has especially if the 
abode of royalty ornaments, consisting of 
halls, chanibers, and other apartments, 
which a city does not possess. For who 
can number the carpets, tapestry, pictures, 
precious vests, and gold and silver vessels 
which adorn the palaces of kings? And 
not only the interior decorations are of a 
great value, but the building itself also is 
admirable, on account of the precious mar 
ble, the pillars, the gilded or painted courts, 
the hanging gardens, and other things 
which it would be too long to enumerate. 
After Solomon, king of Jerusalem, had 
built a temple to the Lord of suitable mag 
nificence, he also erected a palace for him 
self of such extent, that the building thereof 
took thirteen years; though at the same 
time he employed many men, and had at 
hand an abundance of precious stones and 
cedar- wood. With the same expense and 
industry, he built a palace for his wife, the 
daughter of the king of Egypt, and the 
house " of the forest of Libanus," of which 
a description is given in the third Book of 
Kings: and so sumptuous was it, that it 
seems incredible. Wherefore, when the 
sacred Scripture calls that the House/ 
which before it had called the city of God, 
the meaning is, that both the city and the 
kingdom shine as resplendent as a royal 
palace doth shine. For the prophet Ba- 
ruch hath told us, " the house of God is so 


great/ that it occupies the whole extent of 
the kingdom of God. 

If a whole kingdom possessed as much 
magnificence as its chief city, this would 
indeed excite our admiration. Who will 
not therefore be astonished, when he recol 
lects that the kingdom of heaven is called 
the House of God/ because all the beauty 
and value of its ornaments are the same, as 
the house of God itself? Justly doth the 
prophet David exclaim : " My soul longeth 
and fainteth for the courts of the Lord." 
(Psalm Ixxxiii.) Who will not then desire 
with his whole heart, to see and to possess 
this royal and most noble palace, which 
equals in its extent a whole kingdom? 
And, on the other hand, to see and to pos 
sess this boundless kingdom, which equals 
any royal palace in beauty and magnifi 
cence ? But not only would our souls de 
sire such a house and such a kingdom, 
were it attentively to consider, and faith 
fully believe these words ; but it would even 
be quite ravished by the consideration of 
the beauty and magnitude thereof. But 
alas ! being solicitous for earthly goods, we 
deem those objects alone great, which we 
see on earth, and therefore we think not of 
invisible things : we act just as children do, 
who never having left their father s house, 
love it beyond all others, and never think 
of the palaces of kings ; or like rustics who 
have never visited any great city, they are 
solicitous only about the cultivation of the 


fields, about the repair of their thatched 
cottages : but no cares ever disturb them 
about palaces, towers, forums, theatres, 
honours, dignities, riches, or splendid ban 
quets. And, perchance, these rustics and 
children are more happy than rich citizens 
and great princes, because those things 
which appear grand, bring with them more 
trouble and danger than solid utility and 
dignity. But the good things in the hea 
venly House of God our Father, are both 
truly great and cause no trouble unto us, 
nor danger: they will free us from every 
evil, not for a time only, but for ever and 

Wherefore, St. Paul saith, who was 
neither a child nor a rustic, who had known 
the goods of this world, being a most learned 
man, and intimate with the Wise; who had 
been in the house of God, and had visited 
the heavenly city, being rapt into paradise 
and the third heaven he saith of himself: 
* While we look not at the things which 
are seen, but at the things which are not 
seen. For the things which are seen are 
temporal; but the things which are not 
seen, are eternal;" and again: " Our con 
versation is in heaven Seek the things 

that are above, where Christ is sitting at 
the right hand of God. ^ Mind the things 
that are above, not the things that are upon 
the earth. : 



THERE is another reason why the king 
dom of heaven is called the house of the 
Lord: it is derived from these words of 
our Master, " In my Father s house there 
are many mansions." In earthly dwellings 
there are dining-rooms, couches to sleep 
on, and halls or courts for various purposes, 
which cannot be performed outside the house. 
Now in the house of the Lord there are 
many chambers, wherein all the saints not 
only feast on royal banquets, but what is 
most wonderful, and not possible to be cre 
dited, had not the Holy Spirit revealed it 
to us, the King himself ministers unto 
them, being girded ! Thus our Lord speaks 
in St. Luke : " Blessed are those servants, 
whom when the Lord cometh he shall find 
watching. Amen I say to you, that he will 
gird himself, and make them sit down to 
meat, and passing will minister unto them." 
(chap. xii. 37.) What a banquet is this, I 
ask thee ! Who ever heard of such a 
feast? The Lord stands, the servant re 
clines ; the Lord is girded, that He may 
" minister" without impediment, the ser 
vant is ungirded, that he may recline more 
freely ; the Lord passeth bringing food, the 
servant eateth with pleasure the royal food ! 


O ! did we but consider and understand 
these things, how insignificant would all 
earthly pleasures become ! Our Lord on 
one occasion girded himself with a towel, 
that he might wash the feet of his disciples. 
But Peter was astonished, and could not 
endure to see his Lord wash the feet of ser 
vants. -And with reason was Peter thus 
astonished, because he beheld majesty 
humbling itself to give an example of humi 
lity. ^ But in our celestial house, this 
ministering of the Lord is not an humi 
liation, but a favour; for the servants of 
God in heaven, where the proud will not 
enter, stand not in need of an example of 
humility, for all are confirmed and made 
perfect in every kind of virtue. Wherefore 
the ( girding of the Lord signifies, that He 
will as freely and as readily be a Lord unto 
each ^one of his servants, by loading and re 
freshing them with every blessing, as if He 
had nothing else to do, and were alone with 
each one of them ! 

O Christian soul! what doth this mean? 
Would that thou wert wise, and couldst 
understand with what honour and joy the 
Lord will fill his servant for ever ! If these 
truths could descend deeply into thy heart, 
truly thou wouldst become fervent in spirit; 
and with thy loins girt, thou wouldst joy 
fully devote thy whole being to the service 
of so sweet a Lord. And if any one of 
his poor brethren met thee, not only wouldst 
thou not despise him, or look angrily at 


him ; but with the bowels of charity en 
larged, thou wouldst relieve him and nou 
rish him, mindful of these words : " Amen 
I say to you, as long as you did it to one of 
these my least brethren, you did it to me." 
(St. Matthew, xxv. 40.) Where it is said, 
He will make them sit down to meat/ sig 
nifies, that the blessed being now admitted 
into their Father s house, can sit down 
without the least danger or solicitude, and 
enjoy all the good things with which the 
house of the Lord is filled. From hence 
forth, no one will be able, either by force or 
by fraud, to hinder them or forbid them 
enjoying every good most freely. Lastly, 
where it is said that, "passing he will min 
ister unto them," this signifies, there is 
a special banquet for the saints in the Lord 
himself, for he is the bread of life ; he is the 
fountain of wisdom ; he is a hidden manna, 
which no one knoweth of but he that re- 
ceiveth. Wherefore, He passeth unto all, 
he giveth unto all ineffable banquets, that 
satiate without loathsomeness, and fill with 
out satiety. 



LET us now pass from the chambers to 
the couches. " The saints shall rejoice in 
glory," saith David, "they shall be joyful 


in their beds." (Psalm cxlix.) These 
"beds" signify nothing more, than the 
eternal rest of the saints, and that " sleep " 
of which the prophet speaks in other places, 
1 When he shall give sleep to his beloved ; 
behold the inheritance of the Lord," &c. 
And again, t( In peace in the self same I 
will sleep, and I will rest." In fine, this is 
that rest of which St. John makes men 
tion; "Write, blessed are the dead who 
die in the Lord. From henceforth now, 
saith the Spirit, that they may rest from 
their labours ; for their works follow them/ 
(Apocalypse, chap. xiv. 13.) Great is this 
blessing, possessed only by the saints ; for 
in this life no one is entirely free from 
labour, and those who seem at rest, such as 
nobles and rich men, are often oppressed 
with the greater troubles. Not without 
reason hath our Lord compared riches to 
thorns, in the parable of the sower; and Job 
saith ; " Man s life upon earth is a war 
fare," and one of his companions : "Man is 
born to labour and the bird to fly." But 
Ecclesiasticus is the clearest of all on this 
point : " Great labour is created for all 
men, and a heavy yoke is upon the children 
of Adam, from the day of their coming out 
of their mother s womb, until the day of 
their burial into the mother of all. Their 
thoughts, and fears of the heart, their ima 
gination of things to come, ^and the day of 
their end : From him that sitteth on a glp- 
.rious throne, unto him that is humbled in 


earth and ashes. From him that weareth 
purple and beareth the crown, even to him 
that is covered with rough linen: wrath, 
envy, trouble, unquietness, and the fear of 
death, continual anger and strife." (chap, 
xl.) Thus Ecclesiasticus most beautifully 
teacheth us, that no mortal can enjoy rest 
at any time. But I will briefly explain 
these words, that all may understand how 
great is the ( sleep/ that is, the rest of the 
blessed. " Great labour is created for all 
men, and a heavy yoke is upon the children 
of Adam." Occupation is opposed to rest: 
but because many are occupied in pleasant 
things, in hunting, in games, in music, in 
dancing, it is added " A heavy yoke," to 
show us that he speaks of laborious and 
troublesome labours with which no one is 
pleased, and which all fly from. But these 
troublesome labours are " created for all 
men," that is, destined for men from their 
creation, as their individual and insepara 
ble companions. This Ecclesiasticus ex 
plains, lest perhaps he might not be under 
stood by some, " From the day of their 
coming out of their mother s womb, until 
the day of their burial in the mother of 
all." Wherefore, oxen that sometimes 
bear a heavy yoke, but rest at night, are 
better off than man who is compelled to 
carry his " heavy yoke " day and night. 
He then briefly mentions a part of the 
troublesome occupations, which like unto a 
most heavy yoke, press upon the neck of 


mortals. " Their thoughts and fears of the 
heart, their imagination of things to come, 
and the day of their end." The first por 
tion of their labour is the thought of the 
future, for they are always solicitous about 
to-morrow, saying within themselves, 
What will happen after this? Shall we 
lose the little we possess 1" From this soli 
citude proceeds a continual fear, which 
does^ not suffer man to be at rest. This 
solicitude, with its offspring, which is fear, 
is two- fold: one which the mind imagines 
to itself; the other which is certain, and 
which one can avoid. Of the first Ecclesi- 
asticus speaks, Their imagination of 
things to come :" of the latter, " The day 
of their end." Men imagine, that is, re 
present to themselves various future con 
tingencies, which no less disturb them than 
if they were certainly to happen. But the 
thought and fear of death especially 
frightens them, which is called " the day of 
their end :" all await this with so much ter 
ror, that St. Paul in his Epistle to the He 
brews, calls it a continual " servitude :" for 
the expectation of death can embitter all 
the pleasures of life. Lastly, Ecclesiasticus 
adds, that this laborious occupation is so 
common to all the sons of Adam as to be 
long to all men, from the first unto the last; 
"from him that sitteth on a glorious throne, 
that weareth purple and beareth the crown, 
unto him that is humbled in earth and 
ashes." Thus all men, since the. sin of 


Adam, are more miserable even than the 
beasts of the field: for these live without 
fear, and are not solicitous for to-morrow, 
neither do they remember past labours, nor 
are they disturbed by the imagination of 
things to come/ And therefore hath Eccle- 
siasticus said, that this yoke is upon " all 
the children of Adam," in order that he 
might both exclude the beasts of the field, 
and show us that the cause of all this 
misery, was the sin of our first parent. 

But the lot of those who aspire not after 
their heavenly home is the most miserable 
of all, because, after having carried a heavy 
yoke in this life, they will be forced to bear 
a still more heavy one in hell. In this 
world our troubles are often united with 
some consolations ; but in hell there will be 
labour and sorrow, without rest or consola 
tion : for, in the blessed House of God alone 
can there be rest without labour, and con 
solation without sorrow. With reason doth 
the prophet say: " The saints shall rejoice 
in glory : they shall be joyful in their 
beds." (Psalm cxlix.) They rest not as 
those that sleep, who do not feel their rest, 
but they rest with great* joy/ knowing 
and feeling with eternal gratitude their 
most happy rest, free from labour, pain, fear, 
and trouble. Truly, if there were nothing 
else in the House of the Lord but this eter 
nal rest, would it not be worthy of being 
purchased by all the sorrows and labours of 
this life ? and if in hell there were no other 


torment but an everlasting want of rest, 
would it not be worthy of being redeemed by 
the daily prayers and tears of a whole life ? 
As it will be consoling to the saints to be 
hold, at their departure from this world, the 
end of all their labours and sorrows, so, 
likewise, will it be bitter for the wicked to 
reflect, at their death, that henceforth 
they can hope for no rest from their sor 

Death is- said to be the chief of all terrible 
things ; and yet, because it appears to bring 
some rest, therefore most miserable are 
they who shall descend into hell, for "They 
shall seek death, and shall not find it : and 
they shall desire to die, and death shall fly 
from them/ (Apocalypse ix. 6.) Where 
fore, the being deprived of all rest will be 
a more grievous evil than even death itself. 
And yet, so great is the blindness of men, 
that they think nothing of losing eternal 
rest, and of descending into that pit wherein 
their^ torments will never admit of con 



IN earthly houses certain places are set 
apart for various purposes. But, in the 
courts of the blessed, all are occupied in one 


occupation alone, the praise of their great 
King. Here, in this world, some are occu 
pied in gaming money, in acquiring digni 
ties, in acquiring knowledge, either to teach 
or to learn; whilst others devote themselves 
to mechanical arts, in order to provide the 
necessaries of life. But amongst the living, 
immortal inhabitants of heaven there will 
be no wants, no ignorance, no necessity, no 
ambition: all being content with their state, 
neither desire nor require anything more - 
they are entirely devoted to the enjoyment, 
love, and praise of their " chief Good." 

But some one may say, that the duty of 
praising God in psalms and hymns, and 
especially in reciting the canonical hours, is 
laborious and tiresome; and some there 
are who even consider it a heavy burden 
imposed upon them to spend so much time 
in singing in the Churches, and in praising 
God. To whom we answer, that "praising" 
God in this life is a meritorious act, but in 
the next it will be a reward. Hence it is, 
that what may be to many laborious here, in 
heaven will be a sweet occupation to all the 
saints. Now, we read and sing many 
things which we do not understand, whilst 
we labour much in driving away vain 
thoughts, which are like so many trouble 
some flies. Moreover, our body, which is 
mortal, cannot for any long space of time 
attend to the functions of the mind without 
being fatigued. But, in our blessed^ coun 
try, the body will be immortal and impas- 


sible ; vain thoughts will depart ; we shall 
most perfectly understand what we sing ; 
and, what is the greatest of all, the divine 
(i praise" will be nothing more than the 
exercise of our happiness. Wherefore, if 
eternal happiness will not be troublesome, 
neither can the eternal praising of God be. 
That the praising of God is an exercise of 
beatitude, the prophet teachethus : "Bless 
ed are they that dwell in thy house, O 
Lord : they shall praise thee for ever and 
ever/ (Psalm Ixxxiii.) As beatitude con 
sists in always loving and beholding the 
" chief Good/ so the exercise of beatitude 
consists in always admiring and praising 
God; and as no one will be wearied in 
loving Him, so no one will be wearied in 
praising Him. And again: we shall not 
only not grow weary in seeing and loving 
God, but we shall never be tired in seeing 
and praising the works of God, which will 
always be before us, showing forth His won 
derful beauty, Nor can we praise the 
beautiful works of God without our praising 
the Author of them at the same time, for 
they will ever cry out unto us : " He made 
us, and not we ourselves." In fine, as we 
can never forget the benefits with which 
God hath loaded us, so we cannot but 
exult with the most grateful hearts in the 
praises of our most bountiful Benefactor. 

Let us then conclude with St. Augustine, 
and say: "What else could be done, where 
neither any sloth will be admitted, nor any 


want shall laoour ? God Himself will be 
the end of our desires : He will be seen 
without end, loved without weariness, 
praised without fatigue. This gift, this 
love, this exercise, will be truly shared by 
all, as eternal life itself will be common to 
all. There we shall rest and see : we shall 
see and love : we shall love and praise. 
Behold, what will be in the end without 
end. What other end have we than to 
arrive at that kingdom which hath no 



HAVING explained these points, it now 
remains for us to consider what is the gate 
by which we shall be enabled to enter that 
most blessed House. But our Lord Him 
self, in the Gospel, not only makes mention 
of the gate, but also tells us that it is very 
narrow, for, being asked, " Lord, are they 
few that are saved?" He answered: "Strive 
to enter by the narrow gate, for many, I say 
to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be 
able. But when the Master of the House 
shall be gone in, and shall shut the door, 
you shall begin to stand without, and knock 

* Do Civitate Dei, cap. 30. 


at the door, saying : Lord, open to us. And 
He shall say to you : I know not whence 
you are : depart from me, all ye workers of 
iniquity." (St. Luke, chap, xiii.) Thus our 
Lord plainly teaches us, that the "gate" of 
the house of God, which is in heaven, is 
very narrow, although the House itself is 
most extensive; and that, because it is 
narrow, many will not enter therein who 
otherwise would ; that they indeed desire to 
enter, but will not strive for it, nor be will 
ing to suffer any violence. 

But we will explain how it is that the 
gate of this most extensive House is narrow. 
The gate has four divisions the threshold, 
the inner court, and two side passages 
that is, four stones: one below, another 
above, and two at the sides ; which, in our 
gate, are four virtues, essentially necessary 
in order to enter the heavenly house. These 
are faith, hope, charity, and humility. 
Faith and hope are the two lateral stones, 
charity is the inner court, humility is the 
threshold on which we walk. But all these 
stones that is, all these virtues have their 
length and breadth so small, that in them 
selves they are narrow, and, accordingly, 
they make the gate very narrow. 

Let us begin with faith. True Christian 
faith is so narrow that, unless the mind do 
violence to itself, and suffer itself to be re 
duced as it were into captivity, to be bound 
and trampled upon, no one can enter by it. 
This is what St. Paul means in his Second 


Epistle to the Corinthians : "Bringing into 
captivity every understanding unto the 
obedience of Christ." (chap, x.) The Chris 
tian faith proposes many things to be be 
lieved, which are so beyond all understand 
ing that it is most difficult to give our con 
sent to them ; and yet are we commanded 
to believe them so firmly that we should be 
prepared (if necessary) to die a thousand 
times rather than deny one article of faith. 
This is a difficult duty, and 110 wonder so 
few comply with it. This is the reason why 
so many go over to Mahometanism and 
other heresies, because they cannot bear 
the strictness of faith, but have made the 
gate very wide, which nevertheless leads, 
not to life, but to destruction, according to 
the words of our Lord in St. Matthew : 
Wide is the gate, and broad is the way 
that leadeth to destruction, and many there 
are who go in thereat. 7 (chap, vii.) Every 
one naturally desires knowledge, but all do 
not readily assent to a proposition, unless it 
be demonstrated, or a probable reason for 
it be given. St. Paul, the Apostle, expe 
rienced this; for, although he eloquently 
preached from an infused and acquired 
learning, and by the gift of tongues, yet 
when he spoke of the Resurrection of the 
dead many laughed at him, and. others said, 
" What is it that this word-sower would 
say?" And when he preached " Christ 
crucified," it appeared foolishness to the 
Gentiles, and to the Jews a stumbling- 


block, as he mentions in his First Epistle 
to the Corinthians. Hence, the ancient 
heretics, in order to Widen the narrow gate, 
invented various errors. Some denied the 
mystery of the Trinity, as the Sabellians 
and Arians ; others the mystery of the 
Incarnation, as the Nestorians and Euty- 
chians; others the Resurrection of the dead, 
as the Origenists, &c. But all these gates 
(besides many more) being built by human 
architects, and wanting a solid foundation, 
fell in a short time, so that now we scarcely 
know their names : and these even would 
not have reached us, had we not read them 
in the works of those who exposed them, as 
St. Irenseus, Philaster, St. Epiphanius, St. 
Augustine, Theodoret, &c. The Maho 
metans, whose sect is now so widely extend 
ed, have cast away nearly all the most dif 
ficult points in the Christian faith the 
blessed Trinity, the Incarnation of the 
divine Word, the death and resurrection of 
the Son of God, the sacrament of Penance, 
and the holy Eucharist. These being thus 
cast aside, the gate is widened to admit an 
innumerable multitude. 

But the heretics of our own time have 
endeavoured to enter by another way, for 
they have taken away those narrow barriers 
which relate not so much to the understand 
ing as to action. The Christian faith 
teaches that all sins are to be avoided ; that 
we shall have to give an account even of 
every idle word ; that if we fall into mortal 


sin, we must confess it to a priest, and blot 
it out by serious contrition and^satisfaction; 
that good works, though laborious and dif 
ficult, are to be performed if prescribed by 
our superiors ; that the kingdom of heaven 
can be acquired by good works, as a crown 
of justice, and a reward of labour; that 
" celibacy" is to be observed by priests; 
that monks and nuns are obliged to keep 
their vows. These and other points, which 
make the gate narrow, the heretics have 
so taken away as to make it very wide. 
For they assert, that " faith alone is neces 
sary for salvation, so that a Christian could 
not perish, though denied with every sin, 
provided only he believed ; that there is 
no need of confessing our sins to a priest, 
but only to ,God; that contrition is not 
required, a certain terror of the mind being 
sufficient ; that works of penance and satis 
faction are not necessary ; that a priest is 
at liberty to marry, and monks and nuns to 
Violate their vows ; that superiors cannot 
oblige the faithful to perform good works, 
&c. These and other doctrines of faith 
being taken away, the heretics made the 
gate of salvation very wide for themselves : 
but they opened a way that leadeth to de 
struction, and through it they brought to 
perdition, together with themselves, an 
immense multitude of foolish men.^ But 
neither do all Catholics keep within the 
narrow boundaries of faith, for, although 
they believe what their faith teaches them, 


yet^because they live differently from what 
their faith commands, they are proved to be 
in the number of those of whom St. Paul 
speaks where he says: " They profess that 
they know God, but in their works they 
deny him." Thus, these likewise enter in 
at the wide gate that leads to destruction. 
Wherefore, with regard to faith, when our 
Lord was asked, " If they are few who are 
saved ? " we answer, few there are ; and 
hence all must strive to enter in at the 
narrow gate. 



HOPE likewise has its difficulties, whether 
we consider the greatness of the reward 
promised, or our own weakness and nothing 
ness. If an ignorant rustic, without expe- 
rience^were commanded to hope that in a 
short time he should possess the wisdom of 
Solomon, or that of Plato and Aristotle, 
and at the same time the kingdom of Alex 
ander the Great or of Augustus how, I 
ask, could such an humble individual be 
persuaded to hope for such great things? But 
this is much more easy than that a mortal 
man could hope to possess the wisdom and 
power of the angels in heaven, who are pure 


intelligences. For this rustic, and Alex 
ander, and Aristotle, were of the same 
nature, and alike mortal ; and the wisdom 
of Aristotle did not exceed all human wis 
dom, neither did the empire of Alexander 
occupy a third part of the globe. But Chris 
tians are commanded to hope for an equality 
with the angels, according to the words of 
our Lord : " But they that shall be account 
ed worthy of that world, and of the resur 
rection of the dead, shall neither be married 
nor take wives. Neither can they die any 
more: for they are equal to the ^ angels, 
and are the children of God, being the 
children of the resurrection/ (St. Matthew, 
chap. xx. 38.) Again : if a man that crawls 
upon the ground were commanded to hope 
that in a short time he would fly through 
the air, or subsist in the water for some 
time, and go here and there, how could he 
be induced to believe these things? And 
yet large birds, as cranes and storks, fly 
through the air as swiftly as eagles ; and 
large ships, heavy laden, sail up and down 
the waters just as the pilot directs them. 
But Christians are without doubt com 
manded to hope, that with their bodies they 
will one day ascend above the heavens; 
and that from heaven to earth they can 
descend without the least danger of falling, 
and contend with the sun itself in its course 
from east to west, with the certain hope of 
victory. In line, if some poor orphan were 
commanded to hope that he would be adopt- 


ed as a son by a great king unknown to 
him, truly it would take much labour to 
induce him to think this could be possible ; 
and yet both are men, children of the earth, 
and doomed to die. But Christian hope 
teaches us, that every one, provided he be 
baptized in Christ, and observe his com 
mandments, will have the spirit of adop 
tion" from God, will be truly chosen His 
son, and made heir of all things which God 
Himself possesseth co-heir with Christ, 
who is His natural and only Son, and 
whom the Father hath appointed Heir of all 

If these great and sublime hopes were 
entertained by Christians as they should 
be, they would certainly make them fear 
less as lions, so that no dangers or terrors 
could conquer them ; and they would ex 
claim with the prophet: " The Lord is my 
keeper: I will not fear what man can do 

unto me If armies in camp should 

stand together against me, my heart shall 
not fear ;" and with the apostle: "I can do 
all things in Him who strengtheneth me;" 
and again : " If God be for us, who shall be 
against us ?" But few there are who hope 
for such aid as they ought ; whilst many are 
found who do not look even for temporal 
blessings from God, but trust more to their 
own cunning, to theft and lies, than in the 
aid of the Most High. Our Lord Himself, 
in St. Matthew and St. Luke, admonishes 
the faithful by most beautiful parables, not 


to be too solicitous about food and raiment, 
because our heavenly Father, who nourishes 
the birds that neither sow nor reap, and 
clothes the lilies of the field that neither 
labour nor spin, will much more take care 
of His children for whom He intends an 
eternal kingdom: but yet, so little confi 
dence have many people in God, that often 
in their troubles they rather have recourse 
either to human fraud or diabolical arts, 
than to the Almighty. Wherefore, if these 
dp not hope to receive from God what He 
gives to the birds of the air, and the lilies 
of the field, and which He hath, promised 
to give them if they trust in Him, this is a 
great proof that their hope is not of that 
character which belongs to the sons of God, 
who hope to receive a share in His eternal 
kingdom. And since no one can attain 
salvation without a certain and living hope, 
which is a part of the gate of the heavenly 
" House/ therefore few are they that are 

There are also other and greater difficul 
ties in the virtue of hope. It commands us 
to despise present things, which are seen, 
and to hope for future goods, which are not 
seen ; to give alms to the poor, that, being 
multiplied, they may be returned to us in 
heaven, though no one here can see them, 
or conceive what we shall there receive, if 
we sow them on earth. A rustic can 
indeed be easily persuaded to sow his seed 
in the ground, because the experience of 



many years teaches him that what is sown 
with labour will be reaped with joy. But 
no experience teaches us that what is 
given to the poor will be received back 
again with interest in heaven. Therefore, 
it Appears difficult to men to lose present 
things, which are seen, and to hope for 
future blessings, which are not seen. 

Lastly, it is an evident proof that a firm 
confidence in God is a very narrow gate, to 
behold such a great number that weep, 
lament, murmur, blaspheme, and despair. 
Those who confide in God, He either takes 
away from them their afflictions, or gives 
them patience, united with such great con 
solation, as to enable them to exclaim wkh 
the Apostle : "I am filled with consolation, 
I superabound with joy in all my tribula 
tions." They, therefore, that immode 
rately weep^ and lament in their troubles, 
prove as St. Basil shows in his Explana 
tion of the 45th Psalm that they may ex 
claim in words : " The Lord is our refuge 
and our strength ;" but that few truly and 
earnestly say so in their hearts. 



LET us now speak of charity, which is 
the court of the heavenly gate. Charity is 
the queen of virtues, and on one side seems 


boundless, because it extends to God, to 
the angels, to men even those who may 
be unknown to us, and our enemies ; but, 
on the other side it is made " narrow," on 
account of the incredible difficulties it 
brings along with it, since its precepts are 
to be observed, not only in word and in 
tongue, but "in deed and in truth." For 
what, I ask, doth this queen command ? 
First, that we love God " with our whole 
heart, with our whole soul, with our whole 
strength." We are reduced to great diffi 
culties when we endeavour to fulfil these 
commands. For, to love God with our 
whole heart and strength, what else is it 
but a true and earnest love ? " With our 
whole heart and soul" signifies, that our 
love must be real, not feigned ; not in word 
and in tongue, as St. James saith, but in 
word and in deed. With our whole 
strength" signifies, that our love of God 
ought to be supreme. The force of the 
precept, therefore, consists in loving God 
with a true and perfect love, so that we 
should prefer nothing before Him, but be 
prepared with the patriarch Abraham, if 
the glory of God required it, to sacrifice our 
only begotten and most beloved son. And 
not this merely; but also, as our Lord com 
mands us in the Gospel, to hate father and 
mother, wife and children, brothers and 
sisters, even our own soul, and to renounce 
all that we possess : that is, we should be 
ready to be deprived of all these things with 


such promptitude as we should have, if we 
hated them in reality. This is truly a 
severe command, and who can understand 
it? But how easily will men be found, 
and these not a few, who would rather re 
nounce God and his promises than their 
riches and temporal honours, and much less 
their life or that of their sons ! St. Cyprian, 
in his Treatise on the " Lapsed/ beareth 
testimony, that in the primitive Church, 
when the fire of charity was much more 
ardent than now, there were many deser 
ters, who preferred their riches and their 
lives before God; and Eusebius, in his 
Ecclesiastical History, testifies the same. 

But what shall we say of charity towards 
our neighbours ? What doth charity com 
mand us to do with regard to our neigh 
bours ? That we love them as we love 
ourselves ; and that what we wish to be 
done to ourselves, we do to our neighbours 
also. Who therefore is there, being much 
in need, would not wish the rich to give 
him something out of their superabundance? 
Neither would he consider it as an excuse, 
if the rich man answered, " That he was 
encumbered with debt, that he had pur 
chased a villa at an enormous sum, that 
he was building a sumptuous palace, or, at 
least, adorning it with precious marble." 
But these were perhaps not necessary, and 
therefore charity does not allow our indigent 
neighbours to be deprived of subsistence. 
On this point I beseech the reader to con- 


suit St. Basil in his ( Sermon" to the 
rich ; and also St. Bernard on the words : 
"Behold, we have left all things." He will 
see, and be terrified at the danger of those 
who do not think they will have to render 
an account to God of their riches, but live 
according to their own pleasure, not accord 
ing to the will of God, and in charity 
towards their neighbours. If we shall have 
to give an account of "every idle word," 
much more shall we of money ill-spent. 

But let us hear St. John the apostle, and 
from him learn how extensive is the duty of 
charity. He saith : "In this we have known 
the charity of God, because He hath laid 
clown His life for us: and we ought to lay 
down our lives for the brethren." (1 Epist. 
chap. iii. 16.) Christ laid down His life for 
His servants : can it, therefore, be a great 
thing if we lay down our life for our bre 
thren ? The apostle does not say we can, 
but " we ought to lay down our life for the 
brethren;" neither did he say, I think, I 
advise, but absolutely, "We ought." And 
if we ought to give our life, why not our 
riches much more ? Wherefore, St. Gre 
gory justly concludes : " Since our soul, by 
which we live, is incomparably superior to 
our earthly substance, which we possess, 
who will not give his substance when he 
ought to lay down his life?" The same 
may be said on other points ; for he who 
ought to lay down his life for the brethren, 
ought much more to pardon an injury or 


an affront. And ought he not also to be 
on his guard, lest he injure his brother in 
word or in deed ? But, because this pre 
cept of charity towards God and our neigh 
bour is so difficult that few comply with it ; 
therefore, when our Lord was asked, " If 
feware^saved," with reason did He answer, 
"Few:" we must then endeavour, with our 
whole strength, to enter with the few the 

narrow gate. 



THERE now remaineth humility, which 
also hath its difficulties, and these not a 
few. What doth our Master command, 
who hath most truly said of Himself: 
* Learn of me, because I am meek and 

humble of heart Go, sit down in the 

last place?" When He came into this 
world, he was born in a stable, and died on 
a cross. Truly, no one, when born, could 
have found a more lowly place ; nor, dying, 
a more disgraceful one. And whilst He 
lived, He was poorer, not only than men, 
but even than the beasts of the field : for 
tne foxes had holes, and the birds of the 
air their nests, " but the Son of man had 
nowhere to lay His head." But what 
means, " Sit down in the last place?" This 


is the meaning: wherever thou art, how 
ever great thou mayest be, always consider 
thyself worthy of the last place. St. Paul, 
in his Epistle to the Galatians, gives a 
reason for this where he says : "If any man 
think himself to be something, whereas he 
is nothing, he deceiveth himself." (ch. vi. 3.) 
He did not say, he who thinks himself 
to be great, or superior to others, either in 
wisdom, or power, or virtue; neither did he 
bay, if any one think himself not to be 
great, or superior to others, but only equal 
to them ; he said, " If any man think him 
self to be something." In fine, he did not 
say, since he is poor, or unlearned, or igno 
ble, but, "Whereas he is nothing." Thus 
the apostle could not descend lower, in 
order to designate the " lowest place," and 
to give a worthy explanation of the words 
of our Lord. But it may be said, it is 
necessary that men should be in high sta 
tions such as, prelates, princes, kings, 
emperors, and pontiffs. Be it so : but yet 
each one ought to sit down in the lowest 
place, until the Lord shall say, " Ascend 
higher." Of this St. Augustine gives us 
an illustrious example, which I will men 
tion in his own words: "From these that 
love the world I have separated myself: 
with those who govern the people I have 
not considered myself equal, nor at the 
banquet have I chosen the highest place, 
but the lower : but the Lord said unto me, 
* Ascend higher/ But so much did I fear 


the episcopacy, that I would not have 
approached it, since amongst men the fame 
of a certain name had spread ; and in this 
place I knew there was no bishop. I was 
on my guard, and endeavoured, as far as 
possible, to be saved in an humble situa 
tion, not to be in danger in a high one. 
But, as I have said, the servant ought not 
to contradict his Lord."" Oh, that all 
men would imitate such an example ! we 
should then have many good prelates, many 
good princes, many excellent magistrates. 
But, because many push themselves for 
ward, not waiting for a vocation from the 
Lord, the Almighty is oftentimes angry; 
and for an example to others, He compels 
many to sit down in the lowest place, that 
all may learn how honours and riches, as 
well as spiritual blessings, depend on Him 
alone. Hence, we frequently see very rich 
men reduced in a short time to extreme 
poverty, and great princes cast down from 
their thrones. ^ 

But it is not sufficient to wait for a voca 
tion from God ; but we ought also, in the 
prelacy or sovereignty, not to be overwise, 
but, according to the advice of the Wise 
man, the more we are elevated, the more 
humble should we be unto all : not in de 
meanour, but in heart, as St. Gregory 
teacheth in his pastoral, and St. Augustine 
more clearly in his 109th Epistle : " Let 

* " De Vita Clericonun." 


your dignity/ he saith, "be honourable 
before men ; but, before God, place it 
under your feet." Each one ought to 
think others better, and therefore higher 
than himself. For he is properly and truly 
the greatest, who is the greatest in the 
sight of God ; and he is the greatest who is 
the best ; and he is the best who excels in 
virtue, whatever may be his dignity, riches, 
titles, &c. Virtue alone makes a man good, 
not dignity, riches, or titles ; and if virtues 
make a man good, greater virtues make 
him better, and the greatest make him the 
best. And they who possess virtue in a 
higher degree excel all others. Now, we 
may know that humility is one of _ these 
great virtues, because our Lord Himself 
says : "He that shall humble himself shall 
be exalted," which words the blessed Vir 
gin follows in the Canticle : "He hath scat 
tered the proud in the conceit of their heart, 
and hath exalted the humble." And St. 
Peter saith: " Be you humbled, therefore, 
under the mighty hand of God, that He 
may exalt you in the time of visitation;" 
and St. James: " Be humbled in the sight 
of the Lord, and He will exalt you." In 
fine, St. Paul says of Christ : "He hum 
bled Himself, and therefore hath God 
exalted Him." 

Since, therefore, these virtues, and espe 
cially those of charity and humility, make 
men good before God ; and since again, no 
one truly knows what he is in the sight of 


the Almighty, or what others are or will be 
therefore, it is dangerous to prefer our 
selves to others, but most useful to humble 
ourselves before all men. Wherefore, our 
Lord absolutely saith : "Sit down in the 
lowest place." But how many comply with 
this divine precept? For what do men 
contend more than for precedence ? What 
labours do those endure who endeavour to 
reconcile men that quarrel about a point of 
honour ! How many do we often hear using 
these words of Scripture, " I will not give 
my honour to another ?" And yet the 
Most High speaks thus in Isaiah, to whom 
alone such words belong. God alone ought 
not to be humble, since humility is the vir 
tue that restrains a man from desiring to 
ascend above himself, but since God 
dwelleth in the highest heaven, nothing can 
be above Him. Wherefore, pride is intole 
rable, because a worm of the earth dares to 
say, "I will not give my glory unto ano 

And yet, these same worms whom pride 
so swells that they say with God, " I will 
not give my glory to another," humble 
themselves as to acknowledge they are 
the slaves of honour that is, of a false 
esteem. And so faithfully do these serve 
their master, honour, that they rather pre 
fer to be cruelly slain in single combat, and 
to descend into hell, (and thus lose eternal 
life, and their temporal one at the same 
time,) than suffer any affront to be given to 


the idol of their honour. vanity of 
vanities ! Oh, how much doth this smoke 
of honour blind the eyes of the soul ! And 
yet we call ourselves Christians, and know 
that Christ heard from His enemies : " Be 
hold a man that is a glutton and a wine- 
drinker Thou art a Samaritan, and 

hast a devil He caste th out devils, by 

Beelzebub, the prince of devils ;" and yet 
no one heard Him exclaim, "Thou art a 
liar; 3 but, because He was meek and hum 
ble of heart, " When He was reviled, He 
did not revile ; when He suffered, He 
threatened not/ &c. 

From these considerations, it is manifest 
that the "gate" of life is narrow, both on 
account of humility, as well as of the theo 
logical virtues, faith, hope, and charity: 
"Few" enter this gate; and therefore, when 
the question is asked, " If few are- saved/ 
rnost truly must we answer, "Few;" be 
cause few there are who endeavour, with 
their whole strength, to enter in at this 
narrow gate. 



BUT lest we should seem, by too much 
severity, to drive men away from entering 
the gate, I will show (since in this book it 


lias been our endeavour to inflame the 
minds of the faithful with a desire of our 
most delightful and happy country) that the 
"gate/ which on one side appears most 
narrow, on account of the perfection of vir 
tue required; on the other is very wide and 
easy to enter, by reason of the omnipotence, 
truth, and mercy of God, if we be truly 
desirous of entering it. 

Let us begin again with faith. Faith 
certainly proposes for our belief mysteries 
most difficult, far above our reason and 
understanding, and sublimely exalted even 
above the natural capacity of the angels 
themselves. But since the doctrine of faith 
admonishes us, that these mysteries are to 
be believed on the authority of God, who 
cannot deceive, and not on that of angels, 
or of men, then the bounds begin to be 
enlarged. If faith said, " Believe in one 
God, and three persons ; believe that the 
Son of God was born of the blessed Virgin; 
believe that Christ rose immortal from the 
dead on the third day by His own power : 
believe all these points most firmly because 
SS. Peter, Paul, and John, Isaias, Jere- 
mias, and Ezekiel, have said so/ I should 
hesitate, not daring to believe men like 
myself on such difficult subjects. It is said, 
Every man is a liar ;" and therefore it is 
that we require oaths and witnesses, before 
we put our trust in men. But since faith 
says, "All these things hath God revealed; 
and neither Peter, nor Paul, nor John, nor 


the other apostles and prophets, taught 
them on their own authority, but learned 
them from God ; and since they preached 
His word, not their own, then my heart 
enlargeth itself, and is prepared to believe. 
And that it was God who spoke by the 
apostles and prophets, hath been manifest 
ed unto us by Him in so many signs and 
wonders, that it would be foolish and rash 
not to believe. Thus speaks the apostle to 
the Hebrews: " Which having begun to be 
declared by the Lord, was confirmed unto 
us by them that heard Him. God also 
bearing them witness by signs and wonders, 
and divers miracles, and distributions of 
the Holy Ghost according to His own will." 
(chap, ii.) What God says, who will gain 
say ? God cannot lie, for if He could, He 
would not be God. 

But these mysteries, which are proposed 
to our belief, are above our reason. They 
are : but they are not above the power and 
wisdom of God. Therefore, saith St. 
James, " God is greater than our heart;" 
because He can do what we cannot under 
stand, and His essence and existence are 
more elevated than our mind can compre 
hend. If an unlearned man easily believes the 
many incredible things philosophers and 
astronomers mention concerning the magni 
tude of the sun and of the planets, why should 
not man readily believe also whatever God 
hath deigned to reveal, since there is an 
infinite distance between the wisdom and 


power of the one, and the small spark of 
reason with which the other is endowed ? 
They therefore, who consider these remarks, 
will find no difficulty in believing what the 
Church proposes. 



WE may say the same of the virtue of 
hope : for if what we hope to receive in the 
life to come, were said to depend on the 
promises of man, justly should we be reject 
ed as vain impostors, because men can both 
deceive, and are quite unable to give such 
great rewards. But we say, they are not 
to be hoped for from man, but from God, 
who can neither lie, since He is truth, nor 
deceive us, since He is goodness: nor is 
anything impossible with Him, since He is 
omnipotent. Wherefore, justly would that 
rustic think himself mocked at, were any 
one to promise him the wisdom of Solomon 
or the power of Augustus, because he that 
would promise such things would be a man, 
deceitful and weak. But ought not a 
Christian to hope, to whom God promises 
eternal life, the kingdom of heaven, and a 
paradise of every pleasure? Perhaps we 
want pledge-s of this bountiful inten 
tion of God. But, as a figure of present 
things, did not God lead His people through 


a dry path across the Red Sea ? Did He 
not rain down upon them manna from hea 
ven ? Did He not conduct them by Josue 
into the promised land? ^ Should such a 
remarkable figure be considered vain and 
useless ? Moreover, if " (rod so loved the 
world, as to give His only-begotten Son/ 
hath He not " with Him given us all 
things?" That which we hope to receive 
from God, is it not excelled by the " gift" 
which He hath given to us, when we neither 
hoped nor asked for it ? If He hath given 
to sinners and to His enemies the death of 
His Son, will He not give to the justified 
and to His friends the life of the same 
divine Son? But, not content with this, 
the Holy Spirit is added as a pledge of 
our inheritance. IJe crieth in our heart, 
"Abba (Father) ; and giveth testimony to 
pur spirit, that we are the sons of God ; and 
if sons, heirs also heirs indeed of God, and 
joint-heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer 
with Him." (chap. viii. Epistle to the 

Wherefore, if the magnitude of the 
things promised seems beyond our hopes, 
yet they cannot exceed the power of the 
Promisor ; and since this power is infinite, 
it can easily strengthen our hopes, that we 
shall without doubt receive the promises. 
And this promise God hath confirmed with 
an oath, as the apostle proves in his Epistle 
to the Hebrews : so that by two certain 
things, .by the promise of Him who cannot 


lie, joined to an oath, we can rest our hope, 
as on a safe Anchor, of approaching even 
within the veil where Jesus hath entered 
for us, being a priest for ever according to 
the order of Melchisedech. 



BUT what shall we say of chanty ? It is 
very narrow, on account of the difficulty of 
fulfilling its precepts ; but, because of the 
divine goodness, to which it directs us, it 
may be said to be very wide. For why 
should it appear difficult to love God with 
our whole heart, and. soul, and strength, 
since He is most beautiful, most wise, and 
most worthy of infinite love ? It is not dif 
ficult to love that which is excellent and 
beautiful on the earth ; but it is not to love. 
Doth God, then, seem to do us an injury 
when He so strictly commands us to love 
Him, as if we were not bound to love Him 
of our own accord ? We ardently love 
what is beautiful in the world, because we 
clearly see it, but " God no one hath ever 
seen/ Thus we do not see God, but we 
daily behold His works, which are so 
beautiful, and of which the Wise man 
speaks : "With whose beauty if they, being 
deceived, took them to be Gods, let them 
know how much the Lord of them is more 


beautiful than they : for the first Author of 
beauty made all these things." (ch. xiii. 3.) 
We also experience His goodness in His 
daily benefits to us; and we have Him 
for a testimony who beholds us, and who 
cannot deceive : viz. the Holy Spirit, who 
speaks by the apostles and prophets in the 
holy Scripture. God, therefore, is so good 
and beautiful, that He alone deserves to be 
called good and beautiful. 

But you will say, it is hard that we 
should, for the love of God, be sometimes 
compelled to lose our property, friends, and 
even life itself. I acknowledge that it is so 
to those who love not God: but to those 
who do love Him, and desire to possess 
Him, I assert that it is very easy, especially 
since, if we despise temporal goods for the 
love of God, we shall possess those that are 
incomparably superior to them. And what 
are these ? You lose corruptible riches, but 
you will acquire an eternal kingdom ; you 
lose father, brothers, and friends, but you 
will possess God for your father, Christ for 
your brother, and all the angels and saints 
for your friends and companions : you lose 
a temporal life, full of misery, but you will 
gain an eternal one, full of happiness. Hear 
the Canticle of divine love : " If a man 
should give all the substance of his house 
for love, he shall despise it as nothing;" 
and a little above : " Many waters cannot 
quench charity, neither can the floods drown 
it." Hear, again, a lover of God ; " Who 



then shall separate us from the love of 
Christ ? Shall tribulation ? or distress ? or 
famine? or nakedness? or danger? or per 
secution ? or the sword ? But in all these 

things we overcome, because of Him that 
hath loved us." (Epistle to the Romans, 
chap. viii. 35.) 

But so to love my neighbour as to share 
my goods with him ; and, even though he 
were my enemy and had grievously injured 
me, I should be obliged not only to par 
don him, but also to be kind towards him : 
this seems to be against nature. It may be 
against nature corrupted by sin, but not 
against nature regenerated by the grace of 
Christ. Does not God himself share His 
blessings with His enemies, and daily par 
don them, and return them good for evil ? 
"He maketh His sun to rise upon the good 
and the bad, and raineth upon the just and 
the unjust." Now, if God thus acts towards 
His enemies, it is not against the nature of 
God, nor the nature of men created after 
His image, to love his enemies, and do 
them good. But it is opposite to the nature 
of beasts, and of those, " who, when they 
were in honour, did not understand; but 
they are compared to senseless beasts, and 
are become like to them." 




I NOW come to humility, which, like its 
other sisters, is hard to be acquired by the 
proud and the arrogant; but to those who 
attend the School of Christ and wish to 
learn of Him, it is very easy of attainment. 
.And first, we should humble ourselves 
- " under the powerful hand of God," as St. 
Peter admonishes us, and his co-apostle 
St. James confirms. But what difficulty 
can there be, in a mortal man humbling 
himself before his Immortal and Omnipo 
tent God? Secondly, we should choose 
the last place amongst men, because "each 
one should esteem others better than them 
selves/ as the apostle tells us in his Epistle 
to the Philippians. They who know them 
selves and are conscious of their own 
infirmities, and know not those of their 
neighbour, find no difficulty in esteeming 
all others before themselves, and conceding 
them a higher place. For as pride springs 
from ignorance, so does humility from a 
knowledge of one s-self. The heart of the 
proud man easily sees the vices which 
others have, because they are all outside 
him ; but his own vices, often very numer 
ous, he sees not, because they are within 
him ; just as the eye does not behold what is 


within, but only what is without. Of this 
the Pharisee is an example for us, who 
gave thanks to God, that he was not as the 
rest of men a thief, unjust, an adulterer. 
He did not observe these vices in himself; 
but there were others concealed within ; 
pride, blindness of soul, and impenitence 
which he did not see ; therefore he preferred 
himself to the publican praying in the same 
temple. But the publican, who had better 
eyes, saw his own faults, and not his vir 
tues ; therefore he sat down in the lowest 
place, and standing afar off, struck his 
breast, imploring the mercy of God : by 
His j udgment, the one went home justified; 
the other condemned. Wherefore, if we 
seriously endeavour to know ourselves, we 
shall find no difficulty in entering the 
"gate" of the House of the Lord. 

But to all this we must add, that the 
gate which appears so very narrow, and 
almost impenetrable, to those who are 
heavy and corpulent, or covered with many 
garments, or that attempt to enter with an 
erect body ; this same gate is broad and 
wide to those who enter unencumbered, 
naked, and lowly. Wherefore, we are to 
blame, if we cannot easily enter at the same 
gate, through which so many saints have 
before us, without any difficulty or trouble. 
Begin then, Christian soul, to cast aside 
the burden of riches : remember that your 
riches have been given you by God, as to a 
steward, not as to a master, in order that 


you should distribute them amongst the 
poor, but not to hoard them up carefully 
for yourself alone ; and thus your soul 
being free from the love of riches, having 
thrown aside as it were a great burthen, 
will easily enter the " narrow gate." Cast 
away also a love of carnal pleasures, or 
rather cast out those noxious humours that 
produce wind, and inflate the body. In 
fine, reject the opinion of your own excel 
lence ; put on the humility of Christ ; bow 
down your neck to the obedience of His 
commands, and then complain, if you 
cannot easily enter in at the gate of sal 



BUT whether this gate be broad or nar 
row, we must necessarily strive to enter by 
it : for after this life, which passeth as a 
shadow, there is no other place where we 
can well remain, except within this gate. 
Therefore our Lord admonishes us, saying, 
(l Strive ye to enter in at the narrow gate," 
because, as He adds in the same place, 
those who remain without, will all be 
banished to a place where there will be 
eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth : 
these signify the greatest torments with a 


despair of any remedy ; and thence comes a 
madness that impatiently endures what it 
does not wish to endure, and will always be 
compelled to endure. But how much bet 
ter is it to strive to enter in at the narrow 
gate, where rest and joy will be found, after 
we have borne a little labour and sorrow ? 
If indeed men could escape the narrowness 
of the "gate, and the pains of hell at the 
same time, perhaps their frailty might ex 
cuse them from using violence to enter. 
But since we are compelled, either to 
labour here for a time by doing violence, 
or to fall hereafter into eternal sorrows, 
what judgment what reason can we have 
that would induce us to avoid minor evils, 
and so to find those that are intolerable 
and most grievous ! But even if no evils 
would follow after this life, but being de 
prived of the House of God, where alone 
are eternal joys, this ought to induce us 
to strive to enter, not only through the nar 
rowness of the gate, but through briars and 
thorns, and fire and the sword. And though 
during this life we cannot feel what a loss 
it is to be deprived " of beatitude, yet after 
the separation of the soul from the body, 
the eyes of the mind will be opened and 
will most clearly see what a loss, what an 
infinite loss it is, not to have obtained the 
end for which we were created. This 
desire is signified by those words which 
are mentioned in the Gospel, as being 
used by those who shall remain outside : 


" Lord, Lord, open unto us/ The desire 
of their last end will ever torment these 
wretched beings, and the remorse of con 
science will never rest : thus the words 
will be fulfilled, " Their worm will never 
die, and their fire shall never be extin 

Oh ! if we could now seriously think 
with what ardour these men will then ex 
claim, "Lord, Lord, open unto us:" as if 
they said, we cannot live without entering 
into the House of the Lord, and yet we 
cannot die! Wherefore we exist not to live, 
but to be for ever miserable. Wherefore 
" open unto us," because we are prepared 
to suffer every thing, provided only we can 
enter. But He will answer : " I know you 
not. The year of. jubilee has ended ; 
when you could have entered, you would 
not; now therefore it is but just, that when 
you wish to enter, you cannot." Thus 
though deprived of all hope, they will never 
cease exclaiming, being impelled by a 
natural desire, " Lord, Lord, open unto 
us." But because in their lifetime they 
were deaf to the exhortations of the Lord 
crying out to them, " Strive ye to enter in 
at the narrow gate," now the Lord will 
turn a deaf ear to them exclaiming, " Lord, 
Lord, open unto us." Wherefore, if we 
be wise, let us now consult our own welfare 
whilst we have time : let us do now, while 
we are able, what we shall then wish to 
have done, and shall not be able to do it. 






PARADISE is a name of pleasure and 
delight, for it signifies a garden, or most 
beautiful orchard, suitable both for recrea 
tion and amusement. In the book of 
Genesis this paradise of pleasure is not 
once named, when the terrestrial paradise 
is the subject of the discourse. But in 
the prophet Ezechiel speaking of the hea 
venly paradise, it is said of the chief angel 
who afterward fell and became the devil : 
Thou wast in the pleasures of the para 
dise of God." But since the Holy Scrip 
tures mention nothing of Paradise, but that 
there were in it many trees and the foun 
tain of living water, therefore it is my 
intention under the word " Paradise," to 
explain the joys and pleasures which the 
blessed possess in heaven. And this will 
be, unless I am deceived, a useful contem- 


plation to excite our minds to seek and 
reflect upon the things above : and thus so 
to regulate our life, that when we depart 
hence, it may not be to sorrow and dark 
ness, but by the divine assistance, to Eter 
nal light and happiness. All men, with 
few exceptions, are influenced more by 
pleasure, than by any thing else. And the 
Church in one of her prayers says, " There 
may our hearts be fixed, where our true joy 
is." And first we shall consider what the 
Holy Scripture says of the heavenly Para 
dise, whence we shall prove that in it are 
true joys; then we shall endeavour to ex 
plain what these joys are : and lastly, by 
various reasons, or rather comparisons, we 
shall prove that these joys are far more ex 
cellent than we can either comprehend, or 
think, or even imagine. 

First, then, the name of paradise signifies 
pleasure and delight, as we have already 
seen from the Book of Genesis. And that 
there is a Paradise in heaven, Ezechiel tes 
tifies. Our Lord also testifies in the gos 
pel, when he said to the thief hanging by 
him : " This day thou shalt be with me in 
paradise/ He used the word paradise for 
the kingdom of God, and its essential bea 
titude : for the good thief had said, " Lord, 
remember me when thou shalt come into 
thy kingdom." St. Paul testifies in his 
second Epistle to the Corinthians, where 

he says, " I know a man in Christ Such 

an one rapt even to the third heaven, and 


was caught up into paradise." St. John 
testifies in his Apocalypse, where he intro 
duces the Lord thus speaking : " To him 
that overcometh I will give to eat of the 
tree of life, which is in the paradise of my 
God." From these passages it is evident, 
that the region of the " blessed " is a place 
of happiness and delight. And when our 
Lord says to the good and faithful servant, 
"Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord/ 
does He not most clearly declare, that the 
house or city of God is a place of joy, to 
which good and faithful servants are admit 
ted when they leave this world ? Our Lord 
in many places compares the kingdom of 
heaven to a supper, as we read in St. Luke, 
where it is said : " A man made a great 
supper," <fcc. And again, "I dispose to 
you, as my Father hath disposed to me, 
a kingdom : that you may eat and drink at 
my table, in my kingdom." And when 
likewise we are told in the Apocalypse, 
" Blessed are they that are called to the 
marriage supper of the Lamb." The Scrip 
ture, by the figure of the supper, certainly 
points out the pleasure and delight of the 
heavenly paradise ; unless some one assert, 
that there is no pleasure in the sense of 
taste. In addition to these passages, the 
kingdom of God both in the Gospels and 
the Apocalypse is compared to royal nup 
tials : as we learn from the parable ^ of the 
king, who made a marriage for his son; 
and from the parable of the wise and foolish 


virgins, of whom the wise went with the 
bridegroom to the marriage; but the foolish 
virgins remained without. The same also 
is found in the Apocalypse, where many 
things are said of the " marriage supper of 
the Lamb" celebrated with great magni 
ficence in the kingdom of heaven. Now 
the beatitude of the saints may be com 
pared to a royal marriage, because on such 
occasions every variety of pleasure is expe 
rienced and enjoyed. But of this we shall 
treat in the following Book. 

In fine, in the Apocalypse St. John sees 
a choir of virgins who followed the Lamb 
wheresoever He goeth, and sang a new 
canticle which no one else could ^ sing. 
Which passage St. Augustine explains^ in 
his Book on " Holy Virginity/ as having 
relation to certain joys and holy pleasures, 
which virgins alone will enjoy. Thus it is 
manifest, that in our heavenly kingdom and 
city, there are many true joys arid most 
abundant pleasures. 



SINCE it has been proved from Holy 
Scripture, that in the kingdom of heaven 
there is true joy, we will now explain what 
those joys are. And first, we will briefly 


explain the joys of the Understanding, of 
the Will, and of the Memory, which relate 
to the mind : afterwards the joys of the 
other senses which relate to the body. We 
do not here mean to assert, that the under 
standing, memory, and the senses of the 
body are the proper seat of joy; sincere 
are not ignorant that joy as well as desire, 
properly belong to the will in the superior 
part, and to the appetite in the inferior. 
But we speak as men generally do- who 
hesitate not to say, " The eye is delighted 
with the beauty of colour, and the ear with 
the harmony of sound/ By the joy of the 
understanding, therefore, or of the memory, 
or external senses, we mean the pleasure 
which men experience from those objects, 
which they either understand, or remem 
ber, or derive from their external senses. 

The chief joy of the " Blessed" then will 
be, to behold with the eyes of the soul God 
face to face, as St. Paul mentions in his 
first Epistle to the Corinthians : and to be 
hold Him as He is, according to St. John. 
And how great this joy will be, we can con 
jecture from what the prophet Isaias and 
the apostle Paul testify, that it exceeds all 
the joys which we have seen, or heard, or 
desired, or can imagine: " Eye hath not 
seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered 
into the heart of man, what things God 
hath prepared for them that love Him/ 
(1 Corinth, ii. 9.) The holy Scripture 
also speaks of a particular and essen- 


tial happiness which consists in seeing 
God according to the words of our 
Lord : " Blessed are the clean of heart, for 
they shall see God :" and also : " Now this 
is eternal life : that they may know thee, 
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom 
thou hast sent." (St. John, xvii. 3.) This 
truly seems a great privilege, that no 
one can see, or hear, or desire, or imagine 
any good equal to that which the sight of God 
will convey to us ; and yet this is no exag 
geration, but the simple truth, because the 
eyes, the ears, and the heart of man are 
accustomed to finite and limited joys : but 
the sight of G;od is a vision of light inacces 
sible, of an infinite Good which contains 
every good, according to what the Lord 
said to Moses when he had asked, (t Show 
me thy face." He answered, " I will show 
thee every good thing." But that we may 
prove this from reason, we learn from St. 
Thomas that delight which comes from 
knowledge requires three things power, a 
sensible object suitable to that power, and an 
union of the object with this power; and 
that in proportion as the power is capable of 
knowledge, and the object more noble, and 
the union more intimate, so much the 
greater pleasure is derived. ^ But no one 
can doubt but that the mind is much more 
pure and noble, and more capable of know 
ledge than the exterior senses. ^ Now, all 
must admit that God is the highest and 
most noble object, placed not only above 


all objects of sense, bat also above those of 
the mind, being infinite Goodness itself. 
But it is also equally certain, that a union 
of the mind with God by a clear vision is so 
intimate that the essence of God will pene 
trate the whole soul, whilst the soul herself 
will be transformed into God as if she were 
plunged into a great sea. Who, therefore, 
can imagine the greatness of this joy ? The 
sweetness of this embrace from an infinite 
Good, from a Spouse of infinite beauty? 
From the beautiful union of colour with 
the sense of sight, and the sweetest sounds 
with the sense of hearing, we certainly ex 
perience great pleasure ; and often it is so 
great, that many by it almost lose their 
senses. And yet the sense of feeling is 
material, and common to us with beasts : 
the objects also are corporal, and deceive 
us as often as they delight us. In fine, the 
union is superficial and external ; and in 
many of the senses it is not an union of the 
object itself, but of its image with the mind. 
But the spiritual union of God with the 
understanding is more firm, durable, and 
complete ; whilst corporal pleasures that 
are derived from the senses, because they 
are mutable, cannot be durable nor com 
plete, being given to us as it were by 
drops. Wherefore, without doubt, the 
pleasure of the mind is greater than that of 
the senses. 

Wherefore, Man ! recollect thyself, 
and weigh impartially the pleasure which 


the world offers thee, with that which God 
offers thee, when He promises Himself tc 
those that love Him: choose what thou 
wishest for. If thou love pleasure which 
is certainly pleasing to thee, thou wilt 
choose the greatest, rather than the least ; 
the ever-enduring, rather than the momen 
tary. But not oUy the sight of God is 
promised to the good^in heaven, but also 
the sight of all those things which God hath 
made. Here on earth we perceive by our 
eyes the sun, moon, stars ; the sea, rivers, 
animals, trees and minerals. But our 
mind does not know the substance of these 
created things, their essential difference, 
their properties or power: we cannot see 
even our own soul, but like blind men we 
feel for effects, and by reasoning, acquire a 
little knowledge. What then will be the 
joy, when our mind in the vision of God, 
will clearly see the substance of all things, 
their difference, properties and power ! 
And what great exultation will be ours, 
when we shall behold the innumerable 
army of angels, not one of whom resembles 
another, and shall clearly see the difference 
of all ! What unbounded joy will it be, 
when we shall behold those holy men, who 
have been from the beginning of the world 
even unto the end, united together with all 
the angels ! When we shall behold the 
merits of each, their crowns and palms of 
victory ! We shall also see with feelings 
of pleasure, the crimes and torments of the 


damned, in which the sanctity of the good, 
and the justice of God will wonderfully 
shine forth; for then the just will wash 
their hands in the blood of the wicked, as 
the prophet saith. And what doth "wash 
ing their hands in the blood of the wicked" 
signify, but that the good works of the 
blessed will shine more Brightly, in compa 
rison with the works of the wicked ? The 
virginity of some will be more resplendent, 
when compared with the adulteries of 
others: and the fasts and alms-deeds of 
many, when compared with the gluttony 
and revellings of others. It will then be 
said: this young man was beautiful, and 
yet he observed perpetual chastity: this 
other youth was beautiful also, but not con 
tent with his own wife, he often committed 
adulteries and sacrileges. This man was 
rich and of noble extraction, and yet he 
fasted and prayed often, and gave abundant 
alms : another was equally rich and of noble 
extraction, but being addicted to gluttony 
and drunkenness, he spent his money in 
pleasures, so that he had nothing to give to 
the poor. Hence it^will be, that the joy of 
the Just will be increased, by knowing 
the crimes of the wicked. At the same 
time, their joy will also be great, from the 
contemplation of the justice which will be 
so conspicuous, in the rewards of the 
blessed and the punishment of the wicked. 
Now, in human affairs, we perceive a great 
anomaly, because crime is often united with 


reward, and virtue with punishment, so 
that the justice of God seems in a manner 
to be obscured amongst men. But then 
every crime will have its punishment, and 
every virtue its reward, so that the beauty 
of God s justice will excite incredible joy 
in the minds of the blessed. 



THERE are three things which produce 
the greatest love in the will. One is a 
most ardent and inextinguishable love of 
God and of our neighbour ; for love is the 
chief ingredient of every thing loved. He 
that loves, thinks that every thing which 
he loves, is most beautiful and excellent ; 
and therefore he rejoices greatly when he 
sees them; and when absent from them 
grieves inconsolably. We see parents, who 
naturally have great love for their children, 
consider them the most beautiful, talented, 
and prude-nt, although they are often de 
formed and devoid of judgment and know 
ledge. And if a choice were given to 
them, they would not exchange their sons 
for any others, however superior to their 
own in the judgment of men. We often, 
too, behold people, either by chance or any 
other cause, in love with deformed persons, 



to converse with whom they consider a 
great pleasure, and to be separated from 
them a great calamity. This would cer 
tainly not be the case, unless, as we have 
said, love is the ingredient of every thing 
loved. And since this is the case, how 
great will be the joy of the saints, to con 
verse with God and all the blessed, whom 
they will ever love with the most ardent 
affection, and who not falsely, but very 
truly, are most beautiful and excellent, 
and from whom they know they will never 
be removed. On the other hand, one of 
the greatest torments of hell will be, to be 
united with those whom we shall hold in 
the utmost horror, and who we know cir 
cumvented us with a thousand artifices. 

Another circumstance that will cause 
great joy in the mind of the blessed, will 
be a certain inexpressible repose, and 
satiety without fulness, which will make 
them happy and contented in every way. 
Here on earth no one is contented with his 
lot, no one but wishes for more than he 
has, which he cannot obtain. Hence all 
are hungry, all thirsty, all live in discon 
tent. Nor ought this to appear wonderful 
to us, since our soul is capable of an infi 
nite and eternal good, and created things 
are frail and insignificant, which cannot 
last long. What then will be the joy of 
that man, who shall see ^ himself in a 
place where he will live quite contented! 
where he will desire nothing, fear nothing. 


require nothing, nor seek for any thing 
more! Peace! that exceedeth every 
pleasure which the world can give, and 
which alone is found in the heavenly Jeru 
salem, the city of our great and peaceful 
King ! For thee my soul sigheth, full of 
troubles and temptations : in the recollec 
tion and expectation of thee alone, it rest- 
eth for a little time. 

The third circumstance that will give joy 
to the blessed, is perfect justice, and that 
more perfect than original justice was in 
Adam. The one subjected the inferior 
part to the superior, till the latter was sub 
ject to God : but the other will subject the 
inferior to the superior, and the superior to 
God, by a most firm and indissoluble 
union. The one was like a woollen or 
linen vest: but the other will be all of 
gold or silk, which will make the will most 
beautiful and lovely to God, to itself, to the 
angels, and to all the blessed. This is 
that perfect justice which hath no stain, 
not even a venial one ; so that of such a 
soul clothed with such a garment it may 
be said : " Thou art all beautiful, my be 
loved, and there is no spot in thee." This 
includes all those virtues which admit of 
no imperfection, and how great joy and 
pleasure this justice brings with it, the 
wise man beareth witness in the Proverbs, 
" A secure mind is like a continual feast." 
(chap, xv.) That mind alone is secure, 
whose conscience never stings, and which 


by perfect justice is so established in good % 
that it cannot fall, even for a moment. Of 
this St. Paul beareth witness when he 
says, " The kingdom of God is not ^meat 
and drink; but justice, and peace, and joy in 
the Holy Ghost/ (Epistle to the Romans, 
chap. xiv. 17.) Here the holy Apostle 
plainly teaches us, that the kingdom of 
heaven possesses in itself great joy; but 
that it does not consist in the pleasure of 
meat and drink, as carnal men might per 
haps wish, but in justice, which produces in 
the mind a solid peace and true joy.^ For 
he that is perfectly just, hath not in his 
heart any thing to reprehend him, nor in 
his actions what others might reprehend. 
Hence arises a solid and sweet peace with 
God, with himself, and with all others: 
hence, an unspeakable joy in the Holy 
Ghost, with which no earthly or temporal 
pleasure can bear any comparison. 



THE memory will supply no small mat 
ter for joy, from the recollection of the past. 
First, the recollection of the benefits of 
God in the spiritual and corporal, the natu 
ral and supernatural life, as well as the 
temporal and eternal, will bring incredible 
joy, when the just recollect in how many 


ways the blessings of heavenly sweetness 
were given to them. Then the recollec 
tion of the dangers from which God deli 
vered them so wonderfully, in every age 
and every state, will be a source of un 
bounded joy. And amongst other dan 
gers I consider this the chief, that often 
they were near committing mortal sin, and 
therefore near hell, and yet that God. 
moved by His goodness alone, prevented 
the sin. This singular mercy of God being 
often considered by the elect in their most 
peaceful kingdom, will give them the 
greatest delight. And if the saints had not 
the recollection of these things in heaven, 
how could they, as the Psalmist saith, sing 
the mercies of the Lord for ever ? "Nothing 
will be sweeter in the city/ says St. Au 
gustine, " than this canticle for the glory of 
the grace of Christ, by which we were 
redeemed/ " 

What shall I say of the course of ages 
from the beginning, even to the end of 
time? What pleasure will the remem 
brance of so many vicissitudes bring, of 
such a variety of things, which the wonder 
ful providence of God so wisely governed, 
ruled, and conducted to their proper ends ! 
This perhaps is "the stream of the river 
which maketh the city of God joyful." 
What is the course of ages flowing with so 
great velocity and never interrupting its 

* Lib. 22. " De Civitate Dei." 


course, except the stream of the river 
that rolls its waters continually, till they 
disappear and are lost in the ocean ? And 
then, whilst the stream floweth and time 
flieth, many doubt of the providence of 
God: and some even of His servants are 
disturbed by this ( stream of the river/ 
which often brings evil to the good, and 
blessings to the wicked ; which takes away 
the good land from the just, and carries it 
to the camp of the wicked, and brings them 
so many temptations, that they seem to 
complain of the providence of God. Hear 
the royal Prophet : " But my feet were al 
most moved : my steps had well nigh slipt. 
Because I had a zeal on occasion of the 
wicked, seeing the prosperity of sinners:" 
and a little lower : Behold these are sin 
ners ; and yet abounding in the world they 
have obtained riches. And 1 said: then 
have I in vain justified my heart, and 
washed my hands among the innocent. 
And I have been scourged all the day," 
cfcc. (Psalm Ixxii.) Hear Jeremias: 
:( Thou ^indeed, Lord, art just, if I will 
plead with thee, but yet I will speak what 
is just to thee. Why doth the way of the 
wicked prosper: why is it well with all them 
that transgress, and do wickedly? Thou 
hast planted them, and they have taken 
root: they prosper and bring forth fruit: 
thou art near in their mouth, and % far from, 
their reins." (chap, xii.) Hear the pro- 
1 het Habacuc : " Why lookest thou upon 


them that do unjust things, and boldest thy 
peace, when the wicked devoureth the man 
that is more just than himself? And thou 
wilt make men as the fishes of the sea, and 
as the creeping things that have no ruler." 
(chap, i.) But when the course of time 
shall be accomplished, and the river shall 
be lost in the sea, then the saints in heaven, 
calling to mind all its revolutions, shall 
clearly read the reason of its vicissitudes in 
the book of .divine providence, and thereby 
it is incredible, how the stream of this 
river/ represented to them by memory, 
will make joyful the city of God ! There 
they will see, why God permitted the first 
angel and the first man to fall: why the 
mercy of God liberated man, and did not 
liberate the angel. There they will see, 
why God chose for His peculiar people the 
children of Abraham, who, nevertheless, 
he foresaw, would be a stiff-necked people : 
and how great blessings he was preparing, 
on account of their obstinacy, for the Gen 
tiles. In fine, to omit speaking of His uni 
versal providence, there they will see why 
He permitted many, and nearly all the 
just, to suffer afflictions; it was, that He 
might crown them more gloriously. And 
thus, from the remembrance of them, they 
will bless with great joy all those crosses 
which they suffered, since they see them 
changed into eternal crowns, and they will 
exclaim with the Prophet: " According to 


the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, 
thy comforts have given joy to my soul." 



LET us now consider the joys of a glori 
fied body. And first, there will be the joy 
of the sense of " seeing/ which amongst 
corporal senses is the most noble, and its 
office the most extensive. This sense then 
will rejoice at the splendour and beauty of 
its own body in heaven ; for it will see the 
body ( reformed by Christ, and made like 
to the body of His glory/ as St. Paul men 
tions in ^his Epistle to the Philippians. 
Nor will its brightness be less than that of 
the sun, for the Apostle testifies in the 
Acts of the Apostles, that he saw Christ 
(to whose splendour we shall be made con 
formable,) shining above the brightness of 
the sun : and our Lord himself in St. Mat 
thew says: "Then the just shall shine as 
the sun in the kingdom of their Father." 
What a glorious spectacle therefore will be 
presented to the eyes of the blessed, when 
they shall behold their hands, their feet, 
and all their members, sending forth rays 
of light ; so that they will no more stand in 
need of the sun, or of the moon, or of any 
other inferior light, to dissipate the dark 
ness ! But not only will their own bodies 


shine as the sun, but the bodies of all the 
saints also, and especially the body of 
Christ himself and of His most blessed 
Mother. How doth one sun rejoice at his 
rising- the whole earth ! What then will it 
be, to behold innumerable suns, most beau 
tiful not only by their brightness, but also 
by the variety and glory of the members ! 
Nor will the blessed be here obliged to 
close their eyes, lest they should be injured 
by the dazzling splendour: for the eyes 
themselves will be blessed, and therefore 
made impassible and immortal. For He 
who will make the eyes of the soul like to 
His glory, lest seeing God face to face they 
should be overpowered, will also endow the 
eyes of the body with impassibility, that 
they may behold not one sun only but 
many without injury. 

It will also be an addition to the joy of 
the eyes, as St. Augustine teaches us in his 
" City of God/ that the blessed martyrs 
will display the most illustrious marks of 
their virtues, in those particular parts of the 
body in which they endured torments. 
What joy, therefore, will it be to see St. 
Stephen adorned with as many illustrious 
jewels as he endured blows of the stones in 
his body ! What to see St. John the Bap 
tist, St. James the Great, and St. Paul the 
Apostle besides others almost infinite in 
number, who suffered for Christ all shining 
in unspeakable beauty, more resplendent 
than any gold ! What to behold St. Bar- 


tholpmew, who was flayed alive, then so 
glorious beyond the beauty of the richest 
purple ! And, not to mention others, what 
will it be to behold St. Peter and St. 
Andrew, and many others who endured the 
punishment of the cross, now with their 
hands and feet shining like stars in the 
greatest splendour ! And with regard to 
Christ, the King of the martyrs, who for 
His own glory, and for our comfort, hath 
deigned to bear the marks of the cross, no 
tongue can express with what glory these 
most sacred marks will shine ! And all the 
glory of the saints, when compared with 
that of Christ, is less than the beauty of 
the stars when compared with the beauty of 
the sun. 

But what shall I say of the pleasure which 
the eyes will derive from viewing this most 
extensive city, which Tobias and St. John, 
not being able to find sufficient words to 
express, have described it as adorned with 
gems and precious stones ! What of this 
new heaven and new earth, which is pro 
mised us in the Holy Scripture after the 
last day ? What of the renovation of this 
whole universe into a better state? For, 
as these things are unknown to us, so will 
they delight the eyes of the blessed, when 
their beautv shall be seen. 



THAT the sense of hearing* will be an in 
strument of speech in heaven, we cannot 
doubt, for the bodies of the blessed will be 
truly animated and perfect in every part ; 
such was the body of Christ after His resur 
rection, which all the apostles, many of the 
disciples, and many women clearly saw. 
They heard Him speaking, and He answer 
ed their questions. St. Paul also tells us, 
that he heard Christ speaking from heaven, 
and that he answered Him. That there 
will likewise be * Canticles" sung in hea 
ven, and especially that of s< Alleluia/ 
Tobias and St. John testify. From them 
it is evident, that there will be in that city 
many most sweet canticles, by which God 
will be praised, and the ears of the blessed 
wonderfully delighted. And if everything 
be in proportion, there can be no doubt but 
that this canticle will be as sweet and ex 
cellent as the cantors themselves are learn 
ed, as He who will be praised is so holy, 
and as the place wherein the canticle will 
be sung is so glorious, and the choir of 
hearers so intelligent and numerous ! What 
then will it be amidst a most profound 
peace, in such concord of mind, and ardour 
of charity towards their great Benefactor, 


to hear the most melodious voices singing 
Alleluia ! If St. Francis, as it is related 
by St. Bonaventure,* was so moved by the 
sound of a harp touched by an angel for a 
moment, that he supposed himself to have 
been in another world, how will our ears be 
delighted when thousands of harps and 
cantors shall praise God with most melo 
dious voices ! when other thousands, with 
the like harmony, shall repeat the same 
canticles again and again ! But the praises 
of God only will not be sung in this city; 
for the triumphs of the martyrs also, the 
merits of the confessors, the glory of the 
virgins, and the victories of all over the 
snares of the devil, will be celebrated in 
song : all these praises will redound to the 
glory of God. Ecclesiasticus says : " Who 
hath been tried thereby, and made perfect, 
he shall have glory everlasting. He that 
could have transgressed, and hath not 
transgressed ; and could do evil things, and 
hath not done them: therefore are his 
goods established in the Lord, and all the 
Church of the saints shall declare his alms." 
(chap, xxxi.) Now, although these words 
are to be understood as relating to the 
praises of those who dwell in the Church on 
earth ; yet nothing prevents us from apply 
ing them to the blessed in heaven, and the 
Church triumphant. For there the saints 
will have true and eternal glory : there is 

* In his " Life" of St. Francis, chap. v. 


truly the Church of the saints. And since 
in the Gospel our Lord saith, that faithful 
and prudent servants will be praised by 
God in heaven in these words: "Well done, 

food and faithful servant, because thou 
ast been faithful over a few things, I will 
place thee over many things : enter thou 
into the joy of thy Lord;" what prevents 
us from supposing that these words of ^ our 
Lord will be taken up by the whole choir of 
the celestial city, and most sweetly repeat 
ed again and again ? The Catholic Church 
has not hesitated to say of St. Martin : 
" Martin, here poor and mean, now rich, 
enters heaven, and is honoured with hea 
venly hymns. " In fine, St. Augustine, in 
the last book of the " City of God/ 7 affirms 
the same in these eloquent words : " There 
will be true glory, where no one will be 
praised, either by the error or flattery of the 
praiser. True honour will be there, that 
will be denied to no one who is worthy of 
it, nor given to any unworthy of it. Nor 
will any unworthy person aspire to it there, 
where none but the worthy are admitted." 
Oh, thrice blessed then will those be, who 
in this place whence flattery is banished, 
and where^ no deceit is found, shall hear 
their praises sung without danger of 
pride, but not without an increase of their 




ON the other senses only a few remarks 
must be made ; not because they will not 
have great and peculiar pleasures, but be 
cause the Holy Scripture does not inform 
us what these pleasures will be. But this 
is sufficiently evident, that many bodies 
of the saints, immediately after their 
death, began to send forth a most sweet 
odour, such as no one had perceived before. 
This St. Jerome relates of the body of St. 
Hilarion, for he affirms that ten months 
after his burial his body was found perfect, 
as if he were still living; and so fragrant was 
it, that it seemed to have been embalmed. 
St. Gregory, in his "Dialogues," relates the 
same thing of the body of St. Servulus, a 
paralytic. These are his words: "At the 
departure of his soul such sweet fragrance 
was scattered, that all who were present 
were filled with an inconceivable sweetness; 
and until the body was buried, every one 
felt the fragrance/ Other examples of a 
like nature are to be found, both in ancient 
and modern times. From these cases we 
may argue, that if the bodies of the de 
ceased saints, after the soul was assumed 
to glory, breathed such a sweet odour, 
much more will these bodies breathe the 


same when they shall be glorified and alive. 
St. Gregory in his " Dialogues" also 
speaks of the body of our Saviour, in the 
following manner: "Then Tarsilla^ the 
virgin, looking up, beheld Jesus coming; 
and suddenly with such a wonderful fra 
grance was she covered, that it was a proof 
to all the Author of sweetness was pre 
sent." And thus, if the glorified body of 
our Saviour breathed such an odour of 
sweetness, it is certain that all the bodies of 
the saints will send forth the sweetest 
odours : for it is meet that the members 
should be conformable to their head, not 
only in their glory, but also in the sweet 
ness of their fragrance. Let those, there 
fore, who are delighted with odours, think 
with what sweetness they will be filled, 
when in that divine garden, adorned with 
thousands of heavenly flowers, they will 
inhale such various and sweet odours. 



ON the sense of taste theologians write, 
that the blessed will not use earthly food; 
but yet that this sense will have a certain 
pleasure, lest it should appear to be super 
fluous ; but this pleasure will be suitable to 


the state and condition of the just. On the 
sense of touch, all agree that it will be pos 
sessed in heaven, since the bodies of the 
blessed can certainly be touched, being true 
and animated bodies, according to the 
words of our Lord : "Handle and see : for a 
spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see 
me to have." 

But we do not wish to enter on those 
points which are disputed in the schools. 
We believe, however, that the sense of 
touch will derive no small pleasure from the 
perpetual beauty of the body endowed with 
glorified properties, of which St. Paul speaks 
in his First Epistle to the Corinthians: "It 
is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory. 
It is sown^ in weakness, it shall rise in 
power. It is sown a natural body, it shall 
rise a spiritual body," cfec. (chap, xv.) , Of 
these four endowments or privileges of a 
glorified body, that concerning its splen 
dour relates to the sense of sight, as we 
have already mentioned; the other three 
seem properly to relate to the sense of 
touch. For as, when the body is attacked 
with any disorder, or receives a wound 
which is mortal, it is the sense of touch 
that suffers ; so also, when the body is in 
health, the same sense rejoices. Greatly, 
therefore, will the sense of touch rejoice in 
heaven, when, after the resurrection, the 
bodies of the blessed will be immortal and 
impassible, and, consequently, endowed 
with perpetual health. What would not 


men give, and especially princes, if, during 
their whole life, they could be free from the 
gout, the head-ache, or any other pains? 
What then will be the joy in heaven, from 
which not only death, but every disease and 
sorrow will be far removed ! Wherefore, 
those endowments by which a corruptible 
body will rise incorruptible, and that which 
is infirm will become impassible, relate to 
the sense of touch. The endowments of 
agility and subtility, by which what is cor 
poral will be spiritual, seem also to relate 
to the same sense. It will be a spiritual 
and glorified body ; not because it will not 
have truly flesh and bones, but because it 
will be so subject to the spirit, that, by the 
mere nod of the soul, it will be able without 
difficulty to move with the greatest velocity, 
to ascend and descend, to go and to return, 
to penetrate any place, as if it were not a 
body but a spirit. As, therefore, the sense 
of touch suffers when a heavy body is forced 
to ascend upwards, or to be moved from 
place to place quickly; so, on the contrary, 
it rejoices when the body without labour 
either ascends or passes quickly from place 
to place. Behold, then, from what a servi 
tude of corruption the " blessed" will be 
free, when they will no more stand in need 
of horses, or chariots, or arms, or servants, 
or any other thing; but their bodies will of 
themselves go wherever they wish, and 
everywhere be free from danger, even in 
the midst of armed forces. 12 


Would that those who cannot enjoy spiri 
tual delights because they have a vitiated 
taste, would at least consider these corpo 
ral endowments, which are so excellent 
and desirable, and seek after them ! And 
thus they might be induced gradually to 
ascend higher; and by these steps, they 
would at length, by the divine assistance, 
reach unto eternal joys. 



WE have already explained, according to 
our ability, what joys are prepared in hea 
ven for those that love God ; we will now, 
by certain external arguments, endeavour 
to show how great they are. And, first, we 
shall consider the pleasures which God often 
gives, even to his enemies, in this life. And 
truly, so great joys are found in riches, 
honours, power, and various other plea 
sures, which God gives to those that even 
blaspheme Him, or believe not in Him, 
that nearly all men consider them happy 
beings. David exclaims : They have 
called the people happy that hath these 
things/ (Psalm cxliii.) Who amongst the 
lovers of this world does not envy Solomon, 
who reigned forty years, and abounded in 


riches and every delight, besides having 
seven hundred wives and three hundred 
concubines? And yet, according to the 
opinion of Sj. Augustine, it seems that he 
was lost, for thus he speaks : " Solomon 
himself was a lover of women, and was cast 
off by God/ And in his book on the 
" City of God/ he says of Solomon what 
Sallust said of Cataline, " He began well, 
but ended badly." ^ St. Gregory also fol 
lows St. Augustine in the 2nd Book of his 
"Morals/ Not unlike Solomon are, in our 
own times, the kings of Turkey, Persia, 
China, and ^Tartary, who possess the most 
extensive kingdoms, and are addicted to 
carnal pleasures ; they indulge their heart, 
their eyes, their ears, and palate in every 
thing they desire. 

But not to dwell on these pleasures, 
which belong only to a few, how great are 
the joys which God gives to mortals in 
general, the greater part of whom neither 
know, nor love, nor fear God ! Hath 
He not given to all the earth with its 
riches and pleasures, animals, fruit, flowers, 
and metals? Hath He not given to all 
men in general the sea, fountains, rivers, 
and lakes, filled with so many kinds of 
fishes? Hath He not outspread the hea 
vens, to be as it were the roof of His great 
house, adorned with innumerable stars ? 
Doth not this same great and most bounti- 

* In Psalraura, 126. 


ful Lord command His sun to rise and His 
rain to fall, both upon the just and the 
unjust ? Now, if He hath given so many 
pleasures to reprobate sinners and ungrate 
ful slaves, who are deserving (ff the severest 
punishments, is it not just that He should 
reserve for His friends and children joys 
infinitely greater? Hear St. Augustine: 
To sinners that blaspheme His name 
daily, He gives the heavens and the earth : 
fountains, fruits, health, children, riches, 
abundance. He who giveth such to sin 
ners, what thinkest thou will He not give 
to His faithful servants ?" It is mentioned 
in the Life of St. Fulgentius," that when 
he once saw the glory of the Roman senate 
he exclaimed : " ! how beautiful must the 
heavenly Jerusalem be, if earthly Rome be 
so glorious ! And if in this world so much 
honour be given to those that love vanity, 
what honour and glory will be given unto 
the saints, who behold truth itself!" St. 
Augustine, who was such a wise judge of 
things, does not hesitate to assert there is 
such a difference between heavenly and 
earthly joys, that the enjoyment of celestial 
pleasures for one day only, would be more 
desirable than the enjoyment of earthly 
pleasures for thousands of ^ages. These 
are his words : "So great is the glory of 
eternal life, that, supposing we could only 
enjoy it for one day for this alone counties? 

Apud Surius, Tom. 1. 


years of this life, full of earthly goods and 
happiness, should justly be despised ; for 
not without reason has it been said, " Bet 
ter is one day in thy courts above thou 
sands/ What then shall we say? If these 
words are true, as they most certainly are, 
is it not reasonable that we should now at 
length begin to be wise ? Hitherto we have 
been accustomed to exhort you to despise 
earthly goods because they are momentary, 
and to love heavenly things because they 
are eternal. But now we hear St. Augus 
tine, a most learned doctor, affirming that 
although earthly goods were eternal, and 
heavenly ones only momentary, yet that the 
latter should be preferred to the former ! 
Are we not therefore deaf, blind, stupid, 
and foolish, if, on account of earthly goods, 
which are not only vile, but frail and transi 
tory, we despise heavenly treasures, which 
are most precious and eternal? Cure, O 
merciful Lord ! our deafness : enlighten our 
blindness : rouse^ our stupidity : heal our 
madness. Why is the light of thy counte 
nance signed upon us, Lord, if we discern 
not things so great and so necessary ? And 
why hast thou given unto us the judgment 
ot reason, if we see not objects so evident ?"* 

* Rurope tu, Domine misericors et miserator, surditatem 
nostram: iilumina ccecitatem: excita stupiditatem: Sana 
deraentiam. TJt quid enim signasti super nos lumen vultus 
tui, Domine, si haec tarn magna et tarn necessaria Don dis- 
cernimusl Et quare dedisti nobis judicium rationis, si kaec 
tain evidentia uon videmus!" 



WE have compared the joys of this world 
with the joys of the kingdom of heaven : we 
will now compare in a few words the joys 
of the earthly paradise, with those of the 
heavenly one. We may know how great 
were the pleasures of the terrestrial paradise 
from this circumstance, that it was a gar 
den of pleasure given to men, who were 
created according to the image and like 
ness of God, whilst the other parts of the 
earth were given to the animals. But 
when Adam by his sin had lost the honour 
in which he had been placed by God, 
and had become like senseless beasts, 
he was then cast out of paradise into 
this place. St. Alchimus, in his poems on 
Genesis, and others describe paradise as a 
most beautiful region, and very temperate ; 
where neither the heat of summer could 
burn, nor the cold of winter injure, but a 
perpetual spring of flowers flourished, and 
autumn gave its fruits of every kind. 
St. Basil thus speaks of it in his book 
on Paradise : "God planted paradise where 
there is no violence of wind, no in 
clemency of seasons, no hail, nor thun 
der, nor storms ; no cold of winter, nor 
damp of spring, nor summer s heat, nor 


autumn s dryness: but the seasons are 
temperate, and in peace among themselves, 
for they dance around that place ; yea, 
the pleasures of spring, the nourishment of 
summer, the joy of autumn, and the rest of 
winter meet there together with their bless 
ings. Clear are its waters, affording great 
joy to the eye, but possessing more utility 
than joy. God, therefore, created this place 
at first as worthy to receive His plants. 
Afterwards he planted therein a variety of 
beautiful trees, most pleasing to the sight, 
and by them He bestowed a most sweet 

St. Augustine, in his " City of God," 
thus speaks of paradise: "What could 
these fear or grieve for, being in pos 
session of such an abundance of good 
things ; where neither death was feared, nor 
any distemper of the body, and every thing 
was present which the will could desire ; nor 
could anything enter to injure the body or 
soul of those that lived so happily ? Their 
love of God was undisturbed, and they 
lived together in a faithful and sincere 
friendship : from this love came great joy. 
There was a tranquil avoiding of sin, which, 
while it remained, no evil could happen to 
give them sorrow. How happy, therefore, 
were these first men, whose minds were 
agitated by no fears, nor their bodies in 
jured by any evils ! The whole human 
race would have been as happy, had not 
these committed sin, which they passed to 


posterity, and had not every one of their 
descendants sinned, and thus brought 
damnation." So far St. Augustine. I 
omit others who have written on the won 
derful beauty and fruitfulness of the earthly 
paradise, such as Claudius Marius Victor, 
St. John Damascene, St. Isidore, &c. 

But whatever we may think of these 
particular accounts, we learn from the Holy 
Scripture itself that paradise was doubtless 
a more happy place than this our habita 
tion, since, as a punishment for sin, it 
was said to Adam: "Because thpu hast 
hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and 
hast eaten of the tree whereof I command 
ed thee that ^thou shouldst not eat, cursed 
is the earth in thy work : with labour and 
toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of 
thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring 
forth to thee," &c. And to the woman He 
said : "I will multiply thy sorrows and thy 
conceptions ; in sorrow shalt thou bring 
forth children, and thou shalt be under thy 
husband s power, and he shall have domi 
nion over thee." (chap, iii.) In paradise, 
therefore, there would not have been steri 
lity of the earth, neither would its cultiva 
tion have required labour, nor would it have 
brought forth briars and thorns ; women 
would always have conceived with fruit, 
and although they might be subject to their 
husbands, the subjection would not have 
been despotic, but mild and moderate. 
These, therefore, would have led a happy 


life, without fear or sorrow, without labour 
and trouble. 

Now, if the earthly paradise, had not sin 
been committed, would have been free from 
every evil, and have abounded in all good, 
what ought we to think of our heavenly 
Paradise, which must be so much more 
beautiful as it is more excellent, being 
created for more excellent beings? The 
heaven of the blessed is, without any com 
parison, much more sublime than the para 
dise of Adam ; and the blessed inhabitants 
therein, as they cannot sin or die, are there 
fore far, far better off than the inhabitants 
of this earthly paradise, who are exposed to 
sin and to death. This, then, being the 
truth, let us give thanks to God that by the 
Passion of His Son, instead of the terres 
trial paradise snatched from^us by the envy 
of the devil, we have now gained a celestial 
one, far more excellent than the other ; and 
lest we should be ungrateful to so great a 
Redeemer, let us strive with our whole 
strength to enter the heavenly paradise, and 
to open its gates for ourselves by a lively 
faith, by a sincere hope, perfect charity, and 
good works. 




WE will now advance further, and com 
pare all the goods of this world, as well as 
those of the earthly paradise, with the joys 
of the heavenly paradise alone ; and these 
being united together, we shall see which 
preponderate. To accomplish this, let us 
imagine that the riches, power, pleasures, 
and glory of Solomon, and of other like 
fortunate men, could be acquired without 
labour, and retained without fear: let us 
also suppose, that these men could never 
sin, nor ever die. These points then being 
granted, I affirm that the joys of the hea 
venly paradise alone far excel all the 
goods of this world and those of the terres 
trial paradise united together. And hence 
I conclude, that all these joined together 
can never fill the soul, can never satisfy her 
desires, because the heart of man is capable 
of an infinite good: but these are finite. 
Wherefore, the words of St. Augustine, 
which are to be found in the beginning of 
his " Confessions/ will always be true : 
Thou hast made us, O Lord, for Thyself; 
and our heart cannot rest until it rest ill 


Thee."* True also are the words of David, 
" I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall 
appear." (Psalm xyi.) But as long as the 
heart is not at rest, it will be miserable, and 
if miserable, it will not be happy. Now, 
our heavenly paradise will both satiate the 
soul, and take away all fear and uneasi 
ness. For what can he desire who will be 
like unto God, because he will see Him as 
He is? What can he desire, whom God 
"shall place over all his goods ?" What 
can he desire who will reign with God, and 
be a co-heir with Christ, "whom the Father 
hath appointed heir of all things ?" More 
over, because the goods of this world, and 
those of the earthly paradise also, may be 
lost, however great they are, they are not 
therefore perfect goods ; nor can they 
satiate and satisfy the soul; and, on this 
account, they cannot make it blessed and 
happy. But the goods of the heavenly 
paradise are, in every way, perfect and 
secure : they cannot be lost, nor diminish 
ed in the least. For the saints, placed on 
their most blessed thrones, can neither die 
nor sin, and are most certain of their eter 
nal happiness ! 

May mortals therefore open the eyes of 
their soul, and seriously ponder how im 
portant it is, not to lose their heavenly 
paradise. The subject is truly of the deep 
est interest, and not concerning transitory 

* " Fecisti nos, Domine, ad te, et in quietum est cor nos 
trum, donee requiescat in te." (Confess. Lib. 1. cap. 1.) 


things ; for the wisdom of God hath said, 
What doth it profit a man if he gain the 
whole world, and lose his own soul ?" 



THE last comparison will be on the 
" price " by which Christ purchased para 
dise for us, and by which we also ought to 
purchase it with all its goods. Christ, at 
the price of His blood, purchased paradise 
for us, which the envy of the devil had 
snatched from us ; not that he might pos 
sess it himself, but that he might deprive 
us of it. For this purpose he seduced Eve, 
and by her Adam, that he might make 
them both partakers of his punishment. 
Christ therefore is that wise merchant, who 
sold all that he had to purchase the pre 
cious pearl, by which is clearly signified 
the kingdom of heaven, as He himself 
teaches, of whom St. Paul speaks: You 
are bought with a great price;" and St. 
Peter says, " Knowing that you were not 
redeemed with corruptible things as gold 
or silver .... but with the precious blood of 
Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and unde- 
filed:" and again, " They deny the Lord 
who bought them/ Christ at the same 
time that He bought paradise, bought us 


also; for we were captives, and had lost 
paradise by sin: but Christ redeeming us 
from our sins, and from the captivity of the 
devil, made us sons and heirs of God at the 
same time, and by this means restored 
paradise to us. Hence, the greatness of 
paradise is shown to us, by appearing to the 
wisdom of God worthy of an infinite price. 
If amongst men, some wise and very rich 
merchant were to purchase a precious pearl 
by selling willingly all his goods, certainly 
no one would doubt but that this pearl was 
so wonderful and valuable, that scarcely a 
sufficient price could be given for it. How 
greatly therefore ought we to value, if we 

Eossess any judgment, the possession of 
eaven, which the wisdom of God, the 
Word incarnate, by all his labours, suffer 
ings, and sorrows for the space of thirty 
years purchased for us, at the price of His 
most precious death ! We must truly be 
quite senseless, if we sell for the vile value 
of any earthly goods whatever, that which 
Christ our Lord deemed worthy of an in 
finite price. 

But not only Christ purchased paradise 
for us by His blood ; all the saints like 
wise taught by Him, most joyfully gave up 
whatever they possessed whatever they 
were worth whatever they were, in order 
to purchase this same paradise. St. Paul 
exclaims, " I reckon that the sufferings of 
this time are not worthy to be compared 
with the glory to come, that shall be re- 


vealed in us." (Epistle to the Romans, 
viii. 18.) But although the blood of Christ 
was not only a worthy price for paradise, 
but also (if I may so speak) more than 
worthy, being supereminent and exceeding 
the dignity of the thing purchased ; yet He 
wished to purchase us also, that He might 
honour and exalt us. Great is the glory of 
man, because he can obtain paradise, not 
only through the merits of Christ, but also 
by his own merits, which however derive 
their efficacy from Christ. He therefore 
that is unwilling to purchase paradise by 
doing good and avoiding evil, is expelled 
from the inheritance of Christ, as a wicked 
and slothful servant in the parable of the 
Talents. And the apostle seriously ad 
monishes us where he says : " And if sons, 
heirs also ; heirs indeed of God, and joint- 
heirs with Christ : yet so, if we suffer with 
him, that we may also be glorified with 
him/ (Epistle to the Romans, viii. 17.) 

But lest we should perhaps complain that 
we have not a worthy price, we must know 
that nothing is required of us but what we 
already have. St. Augustine thus speaks : 
The kingdom of God is worth as much 
as you possess:" he proves this by exam 
ples from the Holy Scriptures : " What so 
vile, what so earthly, as to break our bread 
for the hungry ? The kingdom of heaven 
is worth as much ; for it is written, Pos 
sess ye the kingdom of heaven, because I 
was hungry, and you gave me to eat/ The 


widow purchased it by her mite : Peter 
purchased it by leaving his nets : Zaccheus 
by giving away the half of his patrimony." 
With these words of St. Augustine, Vene 
rable Bede also agrees when he says : "The 
kingdom of heaven requires nothing else 
but thyself: it is worth as much as thou 
art: give thyself, and thou shalt possess 
it."* Poor Lazarus had nothing to give 
but his patience in affliction, and he was 
carried by angels to Abraham s bosom : 
the good thief had nothing in this world of 
his own, besides that voice by which he 
exclaimed, " Remember me when thou 
shalt come into thy kingdom" and imme 
diately he heard, " This day shalt thou be 
with me in paradise/ ! truly great is 
the goodness of God ! ! ineffable hap 
piness of man, who can so easily pass 
over every thing most precious, with the 
price of his Lord ! Dost thou wish, O man! 
to obtain from God a paradise of every 
pleasure ? Give thyself to Him , and thou 
wilt possess it. What meaneth " Give 
thyself?" Love God with thy whole heart: 
humble thyself under His powerful hand : 
praise Him at all times : be willing to do 
His will, whether He wish thee to be rich 
or poor illustrious or not illustrious im. 
health or in sickness. ^ His will is ador 
able, and just are all His judgments. Say 
then unto God, I am thine : do with me 

* Serm. 19. De Sauctis. 


according to thy pleasure : I do not resist, 
I do not murmur, I obey thy commands. 
" My heart is ready, O Lord! my heart 
is ready. Not my will, but thine be 
done/ This holocaust is beyond all value 
in the sight of God, who standeth in no 
need of our goods. " Doth the Lord de 
sire holocausts and victims," saith Samuel, 
" and not rather that the voice of the Lord 
should be obeyed?" This holocaust of 
obedience Christ daily offered to His 
Father, according to His own testimony : 
I do always the things that please Him." 
And St. Paul, the true imitator of our 
Saviour, saith : " And therefore we labour, 
whether absent or present, to please Him." 
This perfect renunciation of all things we 
possess, or desire to possess : this denying 
of one^s self in Border to please God alone, 
is the "true price of paradise." And he 
who gives himself in this way to gain para 
dise, does not lose himself; but most truly 
finds himself, according to our Lord : "He 
that findeth his life, shall lose it ; and he 
that shall lose his life for me, shall find it." 
But since this truth is hidden from the 
wise and prudent of this world (who are 
fools before God ;) and since the number 
gf fools is infinite, therefore "many are 
called, but few are chosen." 







HITHERTO I have spoken what God hath 
suggested to me in my meditations, con 
cerning the happiness of the saints, under 
the names of those places wherein they who 
are truly happy and blessed dwell ; that is, 
concerning the Kingdom of Heaven, the 
City of God, the House of the Lord, and 
the Paradise of delights. I will now add a 
few remarks on the same subject, under 
the name of those things by which our Lord 
hath described the happiness of the Saints, 
in the parables. But we must first be in 
formed, that these words of our Lord, 
" The Kingdom of Heaven is like/ &c., 
which He continually makes use of in the 
Parables, do not always refer to the words 
immediately following: as if when our Lord 
saith, " The kingdom of heaven is like 
unto a merchant/ He meant that it was 



like to this man : the words relate to the 
whole narration, in which by a similitude 
the way to the kingdom of heaven is pointed 
out. And sometimes the happiness of this 
heavenly kingdom is described obscurely ; 
sometimes clearly, and at other times it 
can in no way be comprehended. I will 
explain each part of this division. 

When our Lord, in St. Matthew, pro 
poses the parable of the Sower, He de 
scribes the fruit which the preaching of the 
Gospel produces according to the various 
dispositions of the land, and this is called 
the "Mystery of the Kingdom of God:" 
but He mentions nothing of the happiness 
of the saints. But when in the same place, 
He adds the parable of the cockle, He 
alludes briefly to the happiness of the 
saints, when He saith, " The wheat gather 
ye into my barn, but bind the cockle into 
bundles to burn." But when in the same 
chapter He speaks of a merchant seeking 
good pearls, and of one that found a trea 
sure hidden in a field, He then clearly com 
pares the kingdom of heaven to the pearl 
and the treasure. I find only six parables 
of this kind : the first being of the treasure 
hidden in a field ; the second of the precious 
pearl ; the third of the labourers in the vine 
yard ; the fourth of the talents ; the fifth of 
the supper ; the sixth of the marriage-feast. 
To which I shall add two similitudes from 
the Apostle Paul ; one concerning those 
that run for the prize, the other concerning 


those that contend in the race. Thus there 
will be eight " Considerations" in the 
blessed life of the saints, taken from the 

The first parable, therefore, (which is 
found in St. Matthew,) makes " the king 
dom of heaven like unto a treasure hidden 
in a field ;" and it briefly teaches us how 
it may be acquired, in these words : 
"Which a man having found, hid it, and 
for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he 
hath, and buyeth that field." (St. Matthew, 
xiii. 44.) A treasure signifies an immense 
sum of gold, silver, and precious stones; 
and it ought to be so old, that no memory 
of it exists, and therefore not having a pro 
per owner, it belongs of right to him that 
finds it. Now this " treasure" is the Divi 
nity itself, which is hidden in the field of 
the humanity of Christ, according to the 
Explanations of St. Hilary, and of St. 
Jerome in his Commentary on the 13th 
chapter of St. Matthew ; for in Christ, as 
the Apostle saith, "are hid all the treasures 
of wisdom and knowledge." But the 
Divinity is the truest treasure of all good, 
and so ancient is it, that no memory re- 
maineth of it, because it is eternal and 
before all ages : nor had this great treasure 
ever any owner, since He is himself the 
Lord of all things. But it is said to belong 
to those that find it, because He willingly 
gives it to them, who having sold all their 
goods, hasten to purchase it. But it is said 


to be " hidden" in the humanity of Christ, 
as if buried in a field; because although 
the Divinity be every where present, yet 
nowhere is it more so, than in the humanity 
of Christ, with which it is so united, as to 
make God and man but one person. Where 
fore the Apostle saith : "God was in Christ, 
reconciling the world to himself." ^ And 
although he was nowhere more than in the 
humanity of Christ, yet he appeared to be 
so hidden, that a " Light" was necessary 
to show God was in Christ. This Light was 
St. John the Baptist, who, as St. John the 
Apostle writes, " Was a burning and 
shining light," and of whom David spoke 
in the person of God the Father, " I have 
prepared a lamp for my anointed." (Psalm 
cxxxi. 17.) St. John made Christ mani 
fest, and truly proved Him to be the only- 
Begotten Son of God, where he says : " No 
man hath seen God at any time ; the only- 
begotten Son who is in the bosom of the 
Father, he hath declared Him." (chap. i. 
18.) And again: "He that come th from 
heaven, is above all;" and a little lower, 
" The Father loveth the Son ; and He hath 
given all things into his hands. He that 
believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting ; 
but he that believeth not the Son, shall 
not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth 
on him." (chap. iii. 35, 36.) But although 
this " burning and shining light" so 
clearly proved Christ to be the Son of God; 
yet Jie blind Jews could not, or would not, 


acknowledge the Divinity hidden in Christ; 
for, as the Apostle saith : "If they had 
known it, they would never have crucified 
the Lord of glory/ 

He therefore, who, being divinely en 
lightened, findeth the treasure, " hides it, 
and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all 
that he hath, and buyeth that field." To 
hide the found treasure, is nothing more 
than under the veil of humility, to conceal 
the grace we have received; not to be 
elated by the light given to us from above, 
nor to boast of our divine consolations and 
revelations, lest vain glory corrupt our true 
glory. Wherefore, the Prophet Isaias was 
accustomed to say, " My secret to myself;" 
and the Apostle Paul, " If I must glory (it 
is not expedient indeed) : but I will come 
to the visions and revelations of the Lord. 
I know a man in Christ above fourteen 
years ago," &c. (2 Epist. to Corinth, xii.) 
The wonderful revelations he received when 
rapt into paradise, he passed over in silence 
for fourteen years ; and for ever would he 
have concealed them, had he not been 
obliged to reveal them. He plainly says, 
"it is not expedient" to make known such 
gifts ; and under a feigned name he reveals 
them, to show how greatly it was against 
his inclination. Something like this hap 
pened to St. Francis, when the sacred 
" Stigmata" were miraculously impressed 
upon him, as St. Bonaventure relates in 


his life : "" he was always accustomed to 
conceal his divine revelations, and to ex 
claim with Isaias, " My secret to myself:" 
but yet when he perceived it could not be 
concealed, he related the whole case with 
great fear to his inquiring brethren. 

With joy to sell all that we possess, and 
to purchase the field where the treasure was 
concealed, means that he who wisheth to 
enjoy God and Christ in the kingdom of 
heaven, must be entirely free from all affec 
tion to temporal things, and deliver himself 
and all that he possesseth, to the disposal of 
God; and this he should do, not in sadness 
or through necessity, but with great joy, for 
"God loveth a cheerful giver." But he 
that truly understandeth how great will be 
the treasure to enjoy Christ in His eternal 
country ; to see with the eyes of the mind 
His divinity, and with those of the body His 
humanity, and to be made a partaker of all 
the good things of God and of Christ, and 
to possess these securely for ever, to him 
it will not appear a great sacrifice to despise 
all temporal goods, and life itself, for the 
love of God and of eternal happiness. Of 
this St. Ignatius the martyr is witness, 
who in his Epistle to the Romans, thus 
writes: "Let fire and the cross; let the 
companies of wild beasts ; let breaking of 
bones and tearing of members ; let the 
shattering in pieces of the whole body, and 
all the wicked torments of the devil come 

* Cap. xiii. 


upon me : only let me enjoy Jesus Christ."""" 
He that could speak thus, would much less 
fear want, ignominy, exile, and the prison, 
in order that he might not lose that incom 
parable treasure. He therefore who truly 
dqsireth to possess the treasure of eternal 
life, should seriously consider again and 
again, whether he be prepared to despise all 
other goods ; otherwise he will never obtain, 
either living or dead, that treasure without 
which he will be eternally poor and 

Bat whence is it, that so many anxiously 
seek after treasures of gold and silver ; and 
not content with human diligence, employ 
the aid of evil spirits, to the great clanger of 
their life and character? But why do so 
few seek after Thy treasure, O Lord, my 
God, who alone canst make men rich, and 
which can be found without labour, without 
cost, or danger? I find rip other cause, 
except either the slender faith of Thy peo 
ple, or their being too occupied in temporal 
things, which leave them not any time for 
considering Thy divine promises to men. 
Wherefore, dear Lord ! increase our faith 
in Thy promises, and extinguish the thirst 
of acquiring temporal riches : thus we shall 
be enabled with greater ardour to seek after 
Thy treasure ; and when found, with Thy 
especial assistance to purchase it, by selling 
all our goods. 

* Oxford Ed. 1840. P. US. 




THE next parable, on the precious pearl, 
is like to the preceding one: this also conies 
in St. Matthew, (chap, xiii.) In the former 
was a treasure, and in this is a pearl which 
may be considered like a treasure. In the 
former parable, it was necessary by the sale 
of all our goods, to purchase the hidden 
treasure ; in this one likewise, the merchant 
sold all his goods, in order to buy it. Where 
fore, it will only be necessary to explain in 
what point this parable differs from the 
other. It differs in two things ; for in the 
one a treasure is mentioned, in the other a 
pearl : and whilst the treasure is accidently 
found, the pearl is diligently sought for by 
the merchant. In this parable, the hea 
venly beatitude, or Christ himself, is named 
a " pearl," as the holy fathers St. Ambrose 
and St. Gregory Nazianzen teach. But 
that which in the preceding parable is called 
a " treasure/ in this is named a " pearl," 
that we may understand how the divinity of 
Christ is indeed a treasure, but not divided 
into many parts of gold, silver, and precious 
stones, for it is one containing within itself 
the value of an infinite treasure. A pearl 
is one substance : but according to Pliny, 
it contains the essence of all precious things. 


Besides, a treasure consists in money alone, 
in immense sums ; and it tends not to plea 
sure and beauty, but to utility only. Where 
fore, lest from the preceding parable any 
one might suppose, that heavenly beatitude 
was only useful, and not beautiful nor glo 
rious, our Lord added this other parable ; 
in which He teacheth us, that the divinity 
of Christ and our happiness are like unto 
the precious pearl, which, beside the utility 
of it as a treasure, possesses also the beauty 
and splendour that adorn and delight us. 

I will also remark, that a pearl is a sym 
bol of Christ, both as the Son of God, arid 
as the Son of the Blessed Virgin. For as 
a pearl is produced by the light of the sun, 
and from the dew of heaven, as Pliny and 
others remark ; so the Son of God also, as 
regards His divinity, is begotten of the 
Father of Light, the uncreated Sun ; and 
therefore we say in the creed, Light of 
Light, true God of true God." ^ Again, 
Christ according to His humanity, was 
born of the dew of heaven, that is, conceived 
of the Holy Ghost, not by man. In fine, 
a pearl is white, shining, solid, pure, light 
and round. Now, the humanity of Christ, 
and much more His divinity without any 
comparison, is white by innocence ; shining 
by wisdom ; solid by constancy ; pure, be 
cause without spot; light, because meek 
and mild; and round, because perfect in 
every part. But the pearl is not found by 
" chance," but is diligently sought after by 


the prudent merchant. And yet, this para 
ble is not contrary to the preceding one, in 
which the treasure is said to be found by 
chance : both are true, but the persons are 
different : and therefore our Lord, in His 
divine Providence, joined this parable to 
the former one, lest we should think all men 
may find the treasure as it were by chance. 
Some there are, whom God, by a particular 
grace, suddenly enlightens, so that neither 
seeking, nor desiring, nor thinking, they 
arrive at the true faith and a most ardent 
charity, and therefore have a certain hope 
of obtaining eternal life. These find indeed, 
as regard themselves, the treasure by 
chance : but God pre-ordained them to this 
grace and to future glory, not by chance, 
but by His eternal Providence. Others 
there are whom God prevents by His grace, 
but not suddenly doth He show them the 
treasure, for He inspires them with a desire 
of seeking the truth : He makes them care 
ful merchants, and then aids and directs 
them till they find the precious pearl. St. 
Paul and St. Augustine are examples in 
this respect. St. Paul sought not the true 
treasure which is* Christ, but persecuted 
Him as a seducer, and the Christians as 
men deluded. And when he was on his 
journey, "breathing out threatening and 
slaughter against the disciples of the Lord/ 
our Lord appeared unto him ; and at the 
same time that He blinded the eyes of his 
body, He illuminated those of the soul with 


such great light, that immediately he be 
came a preacher, from being a persecutor. 
And although this was a fortunate event to 
him, yet what appeared chance, was in God 
Providence. For thus he speaks in his 
Epistle to the Galatians : "For you have 
heard of my conversation in time past in 
the Jews religion ; how that beyond mea 
sure I persecuted the Church of God, and 
wasted it. And I made progress in the 
Jews religion above many of my equals in 
my own nation, being more abundantly 
zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 
And when it pleased him who separated me 
from my mother s womb, and called me by 
his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I 
might preach him among the Gentiles, 
immediately I condescended not to flesh 
and blood." (chap, i.) Wherefore, St. Paul 
was separated from the womb of his mother 
by Divine providence, that he might preach 
the Gospel of Christ ; yet he did not seek 
this precious pearl himself, nor the treasure 
in the field ; but the treasure was offered to 
him, and he became so much in love with it, 
that he spared no labours ; yea, he endured 
every danger, and <c counted all things as 
dung, that he might gain Christ." On the 
other hand, St. Augustine began from his 
youth to burn with a desire of finding the 
" precious pearl," that is, true wisdom and 
eternal happiness. But when he fell into 
the sect of the Manichees, long and greatly 
did he labour, complaining to himself and 


disputing with others, that he might dis 
cover the truth of the Christian religion. 
But ^when he had discovered in that sect 
nothing but fabulous and lying accounts, 
he then almost despaired of finding the 
truth having spent many years in seeking 
it. Thus he speaks in his Confessions : * 
:< I had come into the depth of the sea, and 
despaired of finding truth/ But yet it 
pleased God that he should at length dis 
cover the " precious pearl:" and then with 
out any delay, having sold all things that 
is, having rejected carnal desires by which 
he was strongly bound, and despising 
honours and emoluments, to which he 
ardently aspired, (as he himself tells us,) he 
gave himself up for ever to the service of 
God alone. This therefore, is the reason, 
why in the first parable our Lord compared 
the kingdom of heaven to a treasure found 
without labour, and by chance ; but in the 
other likened it to a pearl, sought after 
by a merchant, with great labour and dili 

It now only remains that the Christian 
soul, removing aside for a time all other 
occupations, should seriously consider with 
in herself, and before God, what is the nature 
of ^ this business how useful, and how easy 
it is at the present time ; .but how difficult, 
or rather how impossible it will^ become, if 
worldly things occupy the attention. Truly, 

* Lib. vi. Cap. 1. 


the children of this world would not omit 
the opportunity of purchasing a pearl 
which could be sold for many thousands of 
pounds. And shall the children of light be 
so imprudent as to refuse to purchase the 
" pearl" which will make them eternally 
rich and happy, and when they will neither 
be compelled to receive money in usury, 
nor to travel here and there to seek a 
purchaser, but it will be quite sufficient 
willingly to give what they possess, even if 
they had but two farthings. Wherefore, 
O Lord my God, let Thy light shine in my 
heart : grant that I may know the worth of 
Thy invaluable pearl, and at the same time 
the littleness of the price which is required 
of me to purchase it. Add, Lord, to thy 
mercies, that thou mayest not in vain show 
unto me so precious a pearl ; and Thou 
who hast said, "Cast ye not your pearls 
before swine/ grant by Thy grace that if 
at any time I have been like unto swine, 
ignorant of the value of Thy pearl, and pre 
ferring the husks before it, I may now, 
enlightened and instructed by Thee, disco 
ver the pearl, and selling all my goods, 
purchase it with joy. 




THE third parable follows, concerning the 
" penny a-day," promised by the house 
holder to those labouring in the vineyard. 
This parable comes in St. Matthew (c. xx.) 
and, at first sight, the reward of eternal life 
appears to be greatly lessened in it, since 
what before was likened to a treasure and 
a precious pearl, is now compared to " a 
penny a-day." But this comparison is used 
that the reward may agree with the toil 
and labour: for the similitude would be 
inappropriate if a great treasure, or a pearl, 
or sceptre, or royal diadem were promised 
to those labouring in the vineyard but for 
one day. But it can easily be proved, that 
the "penny" does not consist in the value 
of a few brass coins, but that it is a hea 
venly coin, abundantly sufficient for food 
and raiment during a whole eternity. The 
reward ought to correspond with the labour; 
but the toil of those labouring in the vine 
yard of Christ must not be estimated by the 
work alone ; (for we should all say with the 
Apostle : " I reckon that the sufferings of 
this time are not worthy to be compared 
with the glory to come, that shall be reveal 
ed in us;") but we must estimate the labour 
from the grace of God dwelling in the 


hearts of the just, which is a " fountain of 
living water/ springing up into eternal 
life. And likewise from the virtue of 
charity, which is infused into us by the 
Holy Spirit that is given to us ; but a crown 
of eternal life is prepared by God for them 
that love Him, as St. James writes. Like 
wise, from our union with Christ, who 
being the true vine, gives the greatest value 
to the fruit of living branches, and to the 
works of living members of His mystical 
body, of whom He is the head, and to whom 
He hath said: "Be glad and rejoice, for 
your reward is very great in heaven." In 
fine, will not our Lord say at the last day, 
when the reward will be given to those 
that labour in the vineyard : " Come, ye 
blessed of my Father, possess you the king 
dom prepared for you from the foundation 
of the world : For I was hungry, and ye 
gave me to eat?" &c. Thus, works of 
charity especially relate to the labour by 
which we toil in the vineyard of the 

Behold, then, how precious this "penny" 
is, which is called by our Lord Himself a 
kingdom ! Nor without reason is it called 
so, since it represents Christ no less than 
the treasure or pearl does. For on the coin 
is impressed the image of a prince, and 
words are inscribed on it, and the figure is 
round. Now, Christ is " the image of the 
invisible God," and the " Word" of the 
eternal Father, " having neither beginning 


of days nor end of life," which is signified 
by the round figure. And in fine, " All 
things obey money/ as Solomon saith : 
now, Christ is the " Lord of all," as St. 
Peter testifieth in the Acts of the Apostles. 
Wherefore, the penny" given to those 
labouring in the vineyard is Christ, true 
God, and by Him eternal life, according to 
St. John in his First Epistle : " And He 
hath given us understanding, that we may 
know the true God, and may be in his true 
Son. This is the true God, and life eter 
nal." (chap, v.) 

But let us consider to whom this precious 
reward is given, which, when once possess 
ed, we shall no more stand in need of any 
thing else. " Call the labourers, and pay 
them their hire," saith the Lord. The 
reward, therefore, will be given to those 
who ^ labour without intermission, without 
negligence^ But it will not be given to 
those standing in the market-place, idle, or 
engaged in fowling, hunting, or gambling : 
the reward will be bestowed on the deser 
ving, not given gratis, and much less will 
it be given^ to the undeserving. When the 
Apostle saith, " The wages of sin is death; 
but the grace of God life everlasting," he 
therefore speaks, because, without the pre 
venting grace of God, no one can do good 
so as to merit the reward of eternal life; 
but when grace is received, which is given 
(( gratis," and not from our works, then the 
reward of good works will be eternal life. 


. Thus St. Augustine speaks in his Epistle 
to Sixtus, a priest at Rome : " As death is 
the merited reward as it were of sin, so 
eternal life is the reward of virtue."* But 
because the same reward is given to all, we 
must not suppose that, in the kingdom ol 
heaven, all the rewards are alike. The coin 
signifies eternal life, whether God or Christ ; 
now eternal life, that is, God and Christ, 
are common to all the saints. But, as the 
same sun is seen more clearly by the eaglf 
than by other birds, and as the same fire 
gives more warmth to those that are near 
it than to those at a distance, so in eternal 
life one will see and enjoy God more clearly 
and sweetly than another ; for, since there 
is a diversity of merit, so also will there be 
a diversity of reward. This may have been 
the reason why our Lord changed the order 
in the distribution of his payments, saying, 
c ^Call the labourers, and pay them their 
hire, beginning from the last even to the 
first. So shall the last be first, and the 
first last. For many are called, but few 
chosen/ But these words relate to the 
grace of the New Testament, informing us 
that we are more happy than our fathers 
under the Old law, and therefore we should 
be grateful to God, and labour with more 
cheerfulness and diligence in his vineyard. 
The holy men that cultivated the vineyard 
of our Lord before the Ascension of Christ 

* Epist. 105. 


such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, 
and other patriarchs and prophets, who 
were called at the first, third, sixth, and 
ninth hour laboured not only for a long 
time because they lived longer, but, even 
after death, they were expecting their 
reward for many centuries, and some for 
many thousands of years. The apostles, 
martyrs, and other labourers, who came to 
cultivate the vineyard at the eleventh hour, 
jlhat is, at the last hour, accoi ding to the 
interpretation of St. John,) laboured but 
for a few years, and immediately after 
death, having entered the kingdom of hea 
ven, they received their reward. How great 
is this grace, by which, if a Christian wish, 
after enduring but very short labours, he 
can immediately ascend to that place, for 
which the most holy patriarchs and pro 
phets sighed for so long a period ! Not 
without cause did these ancient saints mur 
mur as it were (though this seems to signify 
admiration rather than complaint) when 
they said: " These last have worked but 
one hour, and thou hast made them equal 
to us that have borne the burden of the 
day and the heats." But our Lord 
answered for us : " Friend, I do thee no 
wrong : didst thou not agree with me for a 
penny ? Take what is thine, and go thy 
way : I will also give to this last, even as 
to thee." This answer does not mean that 
men under the new law receive by grace, 
and not by their justice, a reward equal to 


those under the Old law ; but that they re 
ceived a more abundant grace, by which 
they have no less laboured in the vineyard 
for a^short time than the others did during 
a long period, and therefore they have justly 
received an equal, and even greater reward. 
The Apostles certainly laboured for a short 
time : but they brought forth the greatest 
fruit in the vineyard of the Lord. When 
did the patriarchs or prophets, having aban 
doned all temporal things, ever traverse 
almost the whole earth, and bring so many 
kingdoms of the Gentiles to the true wor 
ship of God? When, in those ancient 
times, did so numerous an army of martyrs 
endure every torment and the most cruel 
deaths for the true faith ? When, in the 
Old Testament, were so many choirs of 
holy virgins found, who followed the spot 
less Lamb, and vowed and gave unto God 
their soul and body ? Where were then so 
many pastors and doctors, who, watching 
over their flocks, fought against the wolves, 
that is, against heretics and pagans, by their 
most learned writings ? Where, in fine, was 
so great a number of hermits and monks, and 
other religious men, who, emulating the 
life of angels, spent the day and night in 
the praise of God alone and in prayer ? 
These and other examples of the most 
eminent virtue belong to the New Testa 
ment and its blessings, on account of which 
our Lord justly concludes the parable in. 
these words: " Thus the last shall be first, 


and the first last. For many are called, 
but few are chosen;" that is, manyjiave 
been called to cultivate the vineyard in all 
ages of the world, but few have been chosen 
to the grace of the New Testament, by 
which they have produced great fruit, and 
have in a short time received the greatest 

But we must not suppose that all who 
have been called at the eleventh hour, will 
receive a reward ; but those only who have 
laboured, with their whole strength and for 
a short period, in the vineyard of the Lord. 
For many there are, who, knowing that this 
hour is the last, and that time is short, say 
not as they ought to do : "Our life is short, 
therefore let us diligently labour that, in so 
short a period, we may bring forth much 
fruit." But they speak as the foolish do in 
the Book of Wisdom : " They have said, 
reasoning with themselves, but not right : 
The time of our life is short and tedious, 
and in the end of a man there is no remedy, 
and no man hath been known to have re 
turned from hell Come, therefore, let 

us enjoy the good things that are present, 
and let us speedily use the creatures as in 
youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly 
wine and ointments ; and let not the flower 
of the time pass by us. Let us crown our 
selves with roses, before they be withered : 
let no meadow escape our riot: let us every 
where leave tokens of joy, for this is^our 
portion, and this our lot." (chap, ii.) Such 


is the language of those, who either know 
not God, or, acknowledging Him, deny Him 
by their works. And these are indeed so 
numerous, that to them may be referred 
the concluding words of the parable : "Many 
are called, but few are chosen/ Many 
are called at the last hour, but few chosen, 
because few so labour as to be deserving of 
the reward. 

Woe therefore to us, who, being called at 
the last hour, spend the greater part of it in 
play and sleep, whilst we ought to be so 
careful of every moment as not to suffer one 
single portion of it to pass by unprofitably ; 
for on these moments dependeth an eter 
nity of happiness or of misery. And doubt 
less, in proportion as the grace granted to 
Christians under the New Law is greater, 
so much more grievously will they be 
punished who receive this grace in vain. 
And as the last shall be first in receiving 
the reward, because they laboured dili 
gently at the last hour ; so also will the last 
be the first in receiving punishment, who 
shall neglect diligently to labour at the last 




THE fourth parable is that in which our 
Lord thus speaks of the reward of beati 
tude : " Well done, good and faithful ser 
vant, because thou hast been faithful over 
a few things, I will place thee over many 
things : enter thou into the joy of thy 
Lord/ (St. Matthew, chap. xxv. 21.) In 
these words two things are promised to 
faithful servants, the most ample power and 
the greatest joy: "I will place thee over 
many things ;" and what these " many 
things" are, He explains in another place 
where it is said : " Blessed is that servant, 
whom, when his Lord shall come, he shall 
find so doing. Amen, I say to you, he 
shall place him over all his goods." (chap, 
xxiv. 46.) But what means being placed 
"over all the goods" of the Lord, except to 
receive power over all inferior things, and 
to be made a partaker of that sovereignty 
which God possesses over the whole uni 
verse ? t Who can comprehend the great 
ness of this power ? What king or empe 
ror upon earth can be compared with the 
least of ^the saints ? 

But since man cannot possess such great 
power without having great care and trou 
ble, therefore our Lord adds: "Enter 


into the joy of thy Lord." As if he wished 
to say, " As I make thee a partaker of the 
greatest power, so also dp I make thee 
enjoy rest and pleasure, which no cares can 
destroy or dimmish." How ^ great this 
"joy" will be, which is promised to the 
just in heaven, is quite inexplicable, nor 
shall we know it before we have expe 
rienced it. But yet, from the considera 
tion of three words in the sentence, we may 
in some measure conceive how great will 
be the " joy." The first word is " enter; 9 
for as it is not said, May the joy of thy 
Lord enter into thee, but enter thou into 
the joy of thy Lord, this is a proof that the 
joy will be greater than we can conceive. 
Wherefore, we shall enter into a great sea 
of divine and eternal joy, which will fill us 
within and without, and surround us on all 
sides. In this abundance of joy, what room 
will there be for sorrow ? Another word is 
" into the joy," by which an indefinite joy 
concerning this or that good is not pro 
mised, but a joy absolutely pleasure itself, 
sweetness itself, delight itself. And doth 
not our whole soul dissolve as it were, being 
surrounded with such sweetness ? But the 
third word, " of thy Lord," greatly in 
creases this joy ; for we shall enter, not 
into the joy which men or angels possess, 
but into that which God possesses, in whom 
are all infinite riches. Who can conceive 
what this joy of the Lord will be, but He 
who perfectly knoweth His own infinite 


goodness, and enjoys it in an infinite de 
gree ? And yet, Christian soul ! what 
thou canst not now conceive, tliou wilt ex 
perience, and taste, and eternally enjoy, 
if thou be a good and faithful servant. 

Let us now consider to whom these pro 
mises relate. They relate, without doubt, 
to those who have faithfully endeavoured to 
multiply the talents entrusted to them by 
God. The parable is drawn from a rich 
man, who went into a far countiy, and 
delivered his goods to his servants. And 
to one he gave five talents, and to another 
two, and to another one, commanding them 
all to multiply their talents by careful and 
prudent business. Various are the opinions 
of interpreters concerning the signification 
of these " talents/ ^ Some understand by 
them " blessings" given gratis; others the 
Holy Scriptures ; others the knowledge of 
external things acquired by the senses, is 
meant by the five talents; that the two 
talents signify understanding and action, 
and the one talent understanding alone : 
others, in fine, consider them to refer to 
natural gifts, such as genius and judgment, 
or to the spiritual ones of faith, hope, 
and charity. But all agree in this, that 
the multiplication of the talents consists in 
labouring diligently for our own salvation 
as well as that of others. But another ex 
planation occurs to me, not repugnant to 
the others, and which altogether appears to 
agree with what our Lord says concerning 


the talents. And first, the talents are 
called " the goods of the Lord ;" " He de 
livered to them his goods;" then the ser 
vants are commanded to multiply the 
talents : " Lord, thou didst deliver to me 
five talents, behold I have gained other five 
over and above." Thirdly, it is said, "He 
gave to every one according ^to his proper 
ability." Lastly, the talent is taken away 
from the wicked and slothful servant. I 
therefore understand by the talents the 
souls of faithful and pious men, entrusted 
to the care and fidelity of bishops. These 
are truly the "goods" of the Lord, which 
are not given to us, but only committed to 
our care to be multiplied. Our Lord did 
not say to Peter, " Feed thy sheep," but 
"Feed my sheep." Other things are our 
own goods, although bestowed by God, as 
genius, judgment, the Holy Scriptures, 
blessings given gratis, &c. But faithful 
and pious souls He calls His " goods," His 
vineyard, His family, His spouse : for these 
He came into the world, for their redemp 
tion He poured out His blood, to gain these 
He sent His apostles, to whom He said, "I 
will make you to be fishers of men." 

Now faithful souls are multiplied, when 
bishops convert sinners by word and by 
example. This St. Peter did when, after 
our Saviour had entrusted to him one hun 
dred and twenty Christians, saying, Feed 
my sheep/ he converted on the day of 
Pentecost, by his first sermon, three thou- 


sand people, then five thousand, and after 
wards many thousands. And St. Gregory 
Thaumaturgus, when made bishop of Neo- 
csesarea, found only seventeen Christians : 
but he so multiplied them, that when he 
was on the point of death only seventeen 
infidels were left in so large a city: this cir 
cumstance St. Gregory of Nyssa relates, in 
his Life of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus. 
But these talents are given to each one 
6 according to his proper ability/ For 
God who knoweth the strength that is, 
the prudence, knowledge, charity, and 
strength of all men, commits souls to those 
only who He thinks are fit to bear such 
a burden. And, therefore, no one ought 
to undertake the care of souls, an<J espe 
cially accept of the episcopacy, unless 
called by Him who gives the talents, ac 
cording to the ability of each one. But if 
otherwise, we cannot wonder that many 
fall under the burden : neither will it be an 
excuse before God to say, that their 
shoulders were not equal to such a burden: 
He will answer, Who forced thee to bear 
a burden beyond thy strength ? Didst thou 
not wish, and ask, and endeavour to ob 
tain it ? Now therefore thou shalt be cast 
out into the exterior darkness. 

In fine, the talent given to the slothful 
servant is taken away from him. And if 
we say, that the talents are the souls of the 
faithful, this will perfectly agree with the 
parable. For he who received only one 


talent, that is, the care of his own soul 
alone, will lose it if he neglect to take pro 
per care of it: the devil will make it his 
property. And as the blessed possess the 
liberty of the sons of God, by which they 
freely remain where they wish, and do 
whatever they desire ; so on the contrary 
also, the wicked lose all liberty, and their 
hands and feet being bound, they can 
neither walk where they wish, nor do what 
ever they desire ; but they are compelled to 
remain where they wish not, being unable 
to do what they wish : this is, to lose their 
soul. Wherefore this interpretation, in 
which by the talents faithful souls are un 
derstood, is quite consistent with the para 
ble. But how the other opinions can be 
reconciled, it is no easy matter to teach: 
they are not, however, false on this ac 
count, or to be rejected, because it is not 
necessary to accommodate every explana 
tion to the parable, as St. Chrysostom 
wisely remarks."" We shall still continue 
our exposition, not rejecting, as we have 
said, the exposition of others. 

Wherefore, our Lord has committed his 
talents to three sorts of men ; to those who 
are perfect, such as bishops ought to be, 
He has given five talents, that is, a great 
number of people to take care of ; to others 
less perfect, such as priests generally are, 
He has given two talents, that is, the fewer 

* Homily 48th. on St. Matthew. 


souls which are contained in a parish : but 
to others more rude and infirm, such as the 
common people, to each of them He has 

f ven one, that is, the care of his own soul, 
hese also ought, as far as they can, by 
words of private exhortation and good ex 
ample, to lead others from sin to the path of 
virtue, and in this way multiply the talent 
entrusted to them. And what is said of 
bishops and priests, ought also to be under 
stood as relating to princes and magis 
trates, and fathers of families. Thus 
writes St. Augustine : " Every head of a 
family should be by his name, the paternal 
love of his family. For the sake of Christ 
and of eternal life, he should admonish, 
instruct, exhort, and connect all his depen 
dants: he should manifest love to them, 
and likewise exercise discipline : thus in his 
own house he will fulfil in a certain degree, 
the spiritual office of a bishop.""" In this 
sense, Constantino the Great used to say, 
that he was a bishop out of the church, 
because he was solicitous that the church 
should be protected and extended: but 
yet, he did not usurp the ecclesiastical 

But lest any one should suppose that 
one man alone, or one class of men only is 
comprehended in this parable, because he 
alone who received the one talent was 
punished, we must know, that our Lord 

* (Tractatus 51, in Jofcan.) 


wishes us to understand the dangers to 
which superiors are exposed. For as at 
the last day he will reward those who do 
corporal works of mercy, and punish those 
who do them not; from which we know 
that greater will be the rewards of those who 
perform spiritual works of mercy, espe 
cially of the holy apostles and martyrs, and 
virgins of heroic virtue ; and on the other 
hand, that greater will be the punishment 
of thieves, robbers, perjurers, and the sacri 
legious, than those who give not alms to 
the poor : so also in this passage, because 
he who received the one talent which he 
might easily have multiplied, and yet did 
not, was most grievously punished, we 
must understand, that in proportion as 
bishops, pastors, and princes fail in this 
point, so will they be punished the more 
grievously, as the loss of many souls is 
greater than that of one. Let us hear 
what St. Augustine says on the danger of 
the ecclesiastical state: "Above all things, 
I beseech you piously and diligently to 
reflect, that in this life and especially at 
this time, nothing is more easy, pleasing, 
and acceptable to men, than the office of a 
bishop, priest, or deacon, if it be dis 
charged in a careless or fawning manner ; 
but before God nothing is more afflict 
ing and offensive. Again, nothing in this 
life and especially at this time, is more 
difficult, laborious, and dangerous, than 
the office of a bishop, priest, or deacon; 


but before God nothing is more blessed, if 
it be fulfilled in the manner our great king 
commands/ In the remaining part of 
this epistle he treats the subject in such 
a manner that I wish all ecclesiastics 
would attentively read it, and especially 
those who rashly aspire to the episcopacy 
or priesthood. For many when they have 
obtained what they asked for, and found 
what they sought after, either desert their 
flock, or being intent on other things, care 
little about attending to their flock and in 
creasing the number of faithful and pious 
souls. On the night of the birth of our 
Saviour, the shepherds were keeping watch 
over their flocks : and if this was done for 
senseless sheep, by those who were a figure 
of the shepherds of the church, how much 
more ought it to be done by the shepherds 
of that flock, for which our Saviour when 
on earth, watched whole nights in prayer, 
not for Himself certainly, but for His 
sheep ? And if the patriarch Jacob laboured 
so much for the flocks of his father-in- 
law, Laban, that he should say, "Day 
and night was I parched with heat, and 
with frost, and sleep departed from my 
eyes/ what Bought the shepherd of the 
flock of Christ to do, for which He shed 
His blood ? And if the devil goeth about 
as a roaring lion seeking whom he may 
devour, is it not proper that the good shep- 

* Epist. 147. *d Valerium. 


herd should also go about, seeking whom 
to save ? 

But it may be said, business connected 
with the Church often compels one to 
leave his flock. I admit this, when the 
business is important, and only a short 
time is spent in attending to it : otherwise 
great things are to be preferred before less, 
and the former should be performed by 
ourselves, the latter by others. For it 
business compels us to leave our nock 
more important business, even dreadful 
wars, compel us not to leave our flock de 
fenceless. The trumpet of St. Paul sounds 
forth: "Our wrestling is not against 
flesh and blood, but against principali 
ties and powers, against the rulers ot 
the world of this darkness, against the 
spirits of wickedness in the high places. 
(Ephesians vi. 12.) And if the general be 
absent, who shall teach the soldiers to ex 
tinguish the fiery darts of the most wicked 
one ? Our Lord said to Peter, and through 
him to all pastors, " Feed my sheep:" He 
was silent on other things, to teach us that 
this duty was the chief duty % And in the 
consecration of a bishop it is said, Go, 
preach unto the people committed to thee; 
but on temporal matters nothing is added, 
that the bishop may be admonished, not to 
make temporal things equal to spiritual, 
much less to prefer the first before the lat 
ter. In fine, in the fourth council of Car 
thage, bishops are seriously commanded 


not to undertake by themselves the care of 
widows, minors, and strangers, but to 
entrust them to their arch-priest or 
deacon; not to undertake the settling of 
wills, not to engage in law-suits for transi 
tory things, not to be occupied with domes 
tic cares; but to attend only to reading, 
prayer, and preaching. Wherefore this 
council, composed of two hundred and 
fourteen bishops, at which St. Augustine 
was also present, wished that bishops 
should commit all temporal matters to 
others, that they might more freely attend 
to the care and increase of their flock. 

As this parable therefore shows us, that 
eternal happiness is an object especially to 
be desired, since it contains the highest 
power united with the greatest delight ; so 
also it proves, that the means of arriving at 
this happiness, consists in labouring assi 
duously for the salvation of our own soul, 
and in seeking and procuring that of 
others. And they who refuse to endure 
this labour, are deprived not only of this 
happiness and pleasure, but are condemned 
to eternal torments in hell, for thus our 
Lord speaks^ "The unprofitable servant 
cast ye out into the exterior darkness. 
There^ shall be weeping and gnashing of 
teeth." Here we should particularly no 
tice, that the servant who is so severely 
punished, is not said to be wicked or im 
pious, but only " unprofitable. " Thus 
although a bishop, or priest, a prince, or 


magistrate, or head of a family, were free 
from other crimes, yet should he be unpro 
fitable, that is, neglectful of his salvation 
and that of his subjects, he will be cast out 
into " the exterior darkness/ &c. But if 
the unprofitable servant shall suffer this 
punishment, what will^ be done to the 
covetous, proud, luxurious servant, ad 
dicted to various vices? If the unprofi 
table servant be condemned, what an ac 
count will the impious prevaricator have to 
give to God, of the talents entrusted to 
him? Truly they that consider these 
things, will not seek after high places ; and 
if they should be compelled to receive 
them, they will ever watch with fear and 
trembling, as having to give a most strict 
account of the souls entrusted to them. 



THE fifth parable, which is found in St. 
Luke, makes the happiness of the saints 
like to a great supper : and truly, not with 
out reason. For in a nuptial or royal sup 
per, every thing is found that can delight 
the human sense, and exhibit the power, 
riches, and ^ glory of this world. Where 
fore , when king Assuerus ruled over a hun 
dred and twenty-seven provinces, and 


wished to display the riches of the glory of 
his kingdom, and the greatness of his 
power, he found nothing more adapted for 
his purpose, than to prepare a most magni 
ficent banquet. First, in a great banquet 
the eyes are delighted with the costly orna 
ments of the palace, with the numerous ser 
vants clad in beautiful and precious^ robes, 
with the gold and silver vases in which the 
viands are carried ; the ears are delighted 
with various musical instruments, and the 
songs of many voices ; the sense of smell is 
delighted with the odour of flowers, pre 
cious ointment, and scented water, &c. ; 
the sense of taste with viands of every de 
scription, and precious wines from every 
land ; in fine ; the sense of touch is charmed 
by the softest and most elegant couches. 
Wherefore, as in a royal or nuptial ban 
quet, nearly every corporal good is found 
that can be procured on earth, not without 
reason did pur Lord, wishing to represent 
that "happiness" which in itself includes 
all good things, compare it to a great sup 
per: of this we read in the Apocalypse: 
"Blessed are they who are called to the 
nuptial supper of the Lamb." We may 
learn how great the supper of the Lord will 
be, from this circumstance, that the beauty 
of all the glorified bodies will be, the table 
on which the last service is placed. But so 
great is the sweetness of the last course, 
that when St. Peter once saw the body^of 
the Lord resplendent as the sun, he said, 


"It is good for us to be here." And if 
these things be such, what will the supper 
itself be, which consists in the enjoyment 
of the divinity ! 

In fine, all the good things of this world 
are nothing else than the rind and shell as 
it were, of the fruits of paradise. And if 
these * parings be such, that men are en 
chanted with a love and desire for them, 
what will the fruit itself of paradise be ! 
And if the fruit be such, what will the more 
solid and excellent food be ! Truly it will 
be such, as always to be eaten without 
satiety, always to be desired. But we must 
not suppose, that the supper in heaven will 
be such as great princes give here on earth 
at their espousals ; in heaven we shall be 
as the angels of God ; "we shall neither 
marry, nor be married/ nor shall we stand 
in need of food to support life. The supper 
therefore will consist of spiritual ricnes, 
and delights, and glory, and ornament, 
suitable to the state of the blessed. Riches 
and delights are mentioned in this life, be 
cause we see not things more excellent. 
But from these we may learn, that the 
spiritual supper will be so superior to our 
most splendid banquets, as heaven is to 
earth, and as God who will prepare it, is 
above all mortals in power and majesty. 

But some one will say, Why is the hap 
piness of the saints compared to a supper, 
rather than to a dinner? The reason is 
this ; because dinner is taken at mid-day 


and after it business is attended to till 
evening: but supper is taken towards 
evening, when all business is finished, and 
afterwards come rest and sleep. Where 
fore in another parable which is found in 
St. Matthew, respecting the Incarnation 
of our Lord, dinner is introduced on ac 
count of the marriage which the king made 
for his son. The reason is, because our 
Lord s Incarnation, and the marriage with 
His spouse the Church, were commenced 
at mid-day, that is, a long while before the 
end of the world. After dinner, the re 
demption of the world, and the reconcilia 
tion of man with God, were celebrated. 
But when the bride shall be conducted to 
the palace of the bridegroom, and to the 
nuptial supper, all business will cease, and 
the sweetest sleep shall follow, that is, 
there will be eternal rest. This therefore 
is the reason, why the perfect glory of the 
blessed is compared to a supper, rather 
than to a dinner. 

But it will be useful to consider what we 
must do, in order to be admitted to the 
supper. This our Lord plainly teaches us 
in the parable, for He saith : " A certain 
man made a great supper and invited 

many And they began all at once to 

make excuse. The first said to him: I 
have bought a farm, and I must needs go 
out and see it : I pray thee, hold me ex 
cused. And another said : I have bought 
five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them : I 


pray thee hold me excused. And another 
said : I have married a wife, and therefore 
I cannot come/ (St. Luke xiv.) How 
wonderful ! Men are invited by God to 
the nuptial supper, and they refuse ! What 
would they do if they were called to mili 
tary service, or to undertake a long and 
dangerous journey ? Such is the blindness 
of men, that they can scarcely be induced 
to believe what they do not see. But what 
is that which mortals prefer before the nup 
tial supper, that is, before their greatest, 
eternal good ? Our Lord mentions three 
impediments to salvation, which of their 
own nature are not evil ; but yet, too great 
an affection for them hinders our eternal 
salvation. To buy a farm, to try oxen, to 
marry a wife, are not sinful : but to prefer 
them before the kingdom of heaven, is an 
incredible blindness. And yet, there are 
many Christians who pursue temporal 
goods with such ardour ; and honours, dig 
nity, and power, signified in the purchase 
of the farm ; and riches, signified by the 
oxen ; and pleasure, by t?he marriage ; that 
they spend days and nights in seeking and 
enjoying them, entirely forgetting those 
eternal rewards which God hath promised 
to them that love Him. And many are 
not content with purchasing farms, trying 
yokes of oxen, and marrying ; but in order 
as it were, more completely to neglect their 
salvation, they seize the farms of other 
men steal their oxen, and support concu- 


bines: nor do they ever consider what a 
misfortune it will be, for such husks of 
swine to be deprived of the supper of the 
Lord. Truly, if our Lord had promised 
to us ^ worms of the earth, not a sup 
per of infinite sweetness, but crumbs falling 
from that table ; even then it would be ad 
vantageous for us to despise all temporal 
goods, that so we might possess those 
crumbs. ^What madness therefore is it, to 
prefer insignificant and fleeting pleasures, 
before this divine supper, which abounds 
with every eternal delight, and in which we 
shall sit down with the holy angels, and 
even with the King of Angels in heaven ! 

After our Lord hath shown us what are 
the impediments to our being present at 
the great supper, He also added the means 
by which they may be removed : He con 
tinues in the parable: " Then the master 
of the house being angry, said to his ser 
vant : Go out quickly into the streets and 
lanes of the city, and bring in hither the 
poor and the feeble, and the blind and the 
lame." Because the rich were occupied in 
buying farms, and oxen, and marrying, 
they refused to attend the supper of their 
great Master. He therefore calls the poor, 
who have neither money to purchase farms 
and oxen, nor are able to support their 
wives, if they can find any. He calls the 
feeble, who cannot visit farms, nor buy 
oxen, nor marry wives : He calls the blind, 
who cannot see farms, nor manage oxen 


nor easily find a wife: He calls the lame, 
who cannot without the greatest difficulty, 
walk to a farm, manage oxen, or dance at 
a marriage. These therefore being free 
from every impediment by which the others 
are bound, and being admitted to the sup- 
per, ( ought justly to rejoice that God made 
them feeble, and blind, and lame. Many 
in this life complain, that they were born 
poor, or that they are often infirm, or blind, 
or lame, and they appear to be most un 
happy thereat. But they know not what 
good things God hath prepared for them 
hereafter, on account of that very affliction 
which men call "misfortune:" but if they 
did know, they would certainly be glad 
and rejoice. No one ought to complain of 
the providence of God, but in all things 
give thanks to God the best of Fathers, 
who taketh care of us : to His will we 
should always resign ourselves. 

But although we must thus act, yet in 
this place those are properly considered 
poor, who are poor in spirit, not in riches ; 
who are infirm, not in strength, but in con 
fidence in themselves ; who are blind, not 
in sight, but to craftiness ; who are lame, 
not in their feet, but in their affections. I 
will explain my meaning more plainly. 
The poor who are admitted to the supper of 
the Lord, are those who hearing the words 
of the Apostle, do not wish to become rich: 
and if they possess money, do not hoard it 
up, nor spend it in vanity, but in doing 


what the Holy Spirit speaks by the mouth 
of David : " He hath distributed, he hath 
given to the poor; his justice remaineth for 
ever and ever." The infirm are those who 
confide not in their virtue, nor glory in 
their strength. The blind are they who 
truly believe what they do not see, espe 
cially as regards the rewards of the just, 
and the torments of the wicked. For he 
who is truly persuaded, that the rewards of 
the blessed are indeed most glorious and 
eternal, and the torments of the wicked 
most dreadful and everlasting, will not cer 
tainly be attached to the earth nor to its 
goods, ^ but will fix his heart there, where 
alone is true joy. In fine, the lame are 
those and they can justly aspire to the 
supper of the Lord whose right foot is 
much longer than the left ; that is, whose 
love of God and affection for eternal goods, 
are greater than the love of themselves and 
of temporal things, signified by the left 

But let us consider the sentence of our 
great Master, against those who blindly 
and most foolishly despised His Supper: 
" But I say unto you, that none of those 
men that were invited shall taste of my 
supper." Our Lord knew well, that they 
who had been invited, and who through 
love for present goods despised the future 
ones as useless, would hunger after that 
supper with an incredible ardour when the 
senses of the flesh were extinct in death, 


and all earthly things had been removed: 
for the prophet David saith : " They shall 
return at evening, and shall suffer hunger 
like dogs ; and shall go round about the 
city/ (Psalm Iviii.) At evening, when 
the day of this present life is finished, they 
will return and repent, but their sorrow will 
be useless, and they will be hungry like 
mad dogs, and go round about the City of 
God, seeking to obtain, if they can, a few 
crumbs from that supper. But the sen 
tence of the Lord is fixed " None of them 
shall taste of my supper/ 

! if thou didst know, my soul, the 
meaning of these words, "None of them 
shall taste of my supper;" if thou couldst 
comprehend how great will be the hunger 
of those miserable men, and of what sweet 
food they will for ever be deprived ! And 
what would they then give, if they could but 
taste of that for which they so ardently 
long ? But nought will they obtain, even 
if the whole world were at their disposal, 
and they were willing to renounce it. Since 
then this is the case, let us be converted 
whilst we have time, whilst it is our day, 
whilst penance is profitable. Let us now 
hunger after that most delicious supper, 
not as mad and unclean dogs, who think 
of nothing but of their food, but as men 
endowed with reason ; let us hunger after 
the food of eternal life, and the bread of 
angels, even that hidden manna " which no 
one knoweth but he that receiveth/ and 


which God Himself enjoveth from eternity 
unto eternity. And letAis so live in this 
our exile, as not to be in love with it, 
but to sigh after our true country. When 
we shall have arrived there, we shall not be 
obliged to " go round about" the city, but 
we shall enter the open gate ; and being 
admitted to the supper of the Lord, we 
shall be filled with the bread of life and the 
water of wisdom, a most sweet and pleasant 



THE last parable is that which makes the 
happiness of the saints like to a royal mar 
riage, to which ten virgins were invited, 
five being wise and five foolish. We shall 
first briefly explain who is the bride, and 
who the bridegroom; then how excellent 
a good is signified by the word "marriage;" 
and lastly, what is required for our attain 
ing so great an object. 

First then, no one can doubt but that 
Christ is the bridegroom. This is expressed 
by St. John the Baptist, where speaking of 
Christ he says : "He that hath the bride, 
is the bridegroom ; but the friend of the 
bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, 
rejoiceth with joy because of the bride 
groom s voice." Our Lord Himself also 


intimates the same in the parable of the king 
who made a marriage for his son. The 
Apostle confirms the same, in his Epistle to 
the Corinthians : " I have espoused you to 
one husband, that I may present you as a 
chaste virgin to Christ/ So also does St. 
John in the Apocalypse : " Let us be glad 
and rejoice, and give glory to him ; for the 
marriage of the Lamb is come, and his 
wife hath prepared herself:" and again, 
(( Blessed are they that are called to the 
marriage supper of the Lamb." It is 
equally certain, that the Church is the 
bride. This the Apostle clearly asserts in 
his Epistle to the Ephesians: " Therefore 
as the Church is subject to Christ, so also 
let the wives be to their husbands in all 
things. Husbands, love your wives, as 
Christ also loved the Church, and deli 
vered himself up for it, that he might 

sanctify it For this cause shall a man 

leave his father and mother, and shall cleave 
to his wife, and they shall be two in one 
flesh. ^ This is a great sacrament ; but I 
speak in Christ and in the Church." (chap. 
v. 24, &c.) 

But although the Church be the spouse 
of Christ, and the faithful be called the 
Sons of the Church, because by baptism 
she has brought them forth, as it were, for 
Christ ; yet, because the Church is nothing 
more than an assembly of the faithful, 
therefore all pious souls are individual 
spouses, as the Church is an universal 


spouse. For not falsely doth the Church 
sing of holy virgins, " Come, spouse of 
Christ, and receive -the crown which the 
Lord hath prepared for thee for ever/ But 
although holy virgins are, in a special man 
ner, called spouses of Christ, because they 
have rejected a carnal marriage, in order 
to be spiritually married to Christ alone ; 
yet other Christian souls are also " spouses" 
of Christ, for they are espoused to Him by 
faith, united to Him by charity, and aspire 
to a consummation of the spiritual marriage 
in the kingdom of heaven. 

But if we could sufficiently conceive 
what a good it will be for the human soul 
to be united with marriage in Christ, we 
should find nothing more honourable, 
nothing more useful, nothing more sweet, 
either in this world or in the next. Great 
is the glory, advantage, and sweetness in 
serving the King of kings ; greater to be 
numbered amongst his friends and domes 
tics ; the greatest to be called a son of God 
and the brother of Christ. But to become 
the " spouse" of God, a partner of His 
throne, of His crown, and of all His titles, 
appears to me to be more than the greatest, 
if I may so speak. This it is of which our 
Lord speaks in Isaias concerning spiritual 
eunuchs : l I will give to them in my house, 
and within my walls, a name better than 
sons and daughters ;" that is, I will give to 
them the name of a spouse. Who can com 
prehend, how noble, how honourable and 


sweet it will be, not only to behold God 
and to converse with him, but to become 
one spirit with Him, and to be transformed 
into Him? These are the words of the 
Apostle : " He who is joined to a harlot, is 

made one body But he who is joined to 

the Lord, is one spirit :" and again, "But 
we all beholding the glory of the Lord with 
open face, are transformed into the same 
image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit 
of the Lord/ (2 Epist. to the Corinth, iii. 
18.) How great will be the pleasure, when 
being united to God and irradiated by the 
brightness of His countenance, we shall be 
transformed into His brightness, and made 
most like unto Him ! " We shall be like 
to him/ saith St. John, " because we shall 
see him as he is." We shall be like to 
Him, not only as images created according 
to His likeness ; but like in glory, in beati 
tude, in happiness. St. Paul the apostle, 
in that wonderful rapture he had when he 
was caught up into paradise/ heard secret 
words which it was not in the power of man 
to utter ; and yet he was so absorbed in 
God, that he knew not whether he was in 
the body or out of the body. How great, 
therefore, will be that most happy union of 
the soul with God, when absorbed and im 
mersed in the sea of His sweetness, she 
will be "one spirit" with God ! So great 
will be the joy, that as St. Bernard says, 
" All other joy compared with it will be sor 
row all sweetness will be bitterness ; all 


honour, dishonour ; whatever else, in fine, 
can delight us, will be troublesome."* But 
since this union of the most beautiful spouse 
with a blessed soul be ineffable, let us rather 
inquire from the present parable what are 
the conditions on which we can be admitted 
to this most happy marriage ? These we 
shall learn from the qualities of the wise 
virgins, for they alone entered into the nup 
tials of the heavenly spouse. The qualities 
or conditions are five ; first, that we be vir 
gins ; secondly, that we be prudent; thirdly, 
that we have our lamp lighted ; fourthly, 
that we have oil in it ; and lastly, that we 
watch, and by watching diligently await 
the coming of the bridegroom. 

As far as regards the first condition, the 
spouses of Christ ought all to be virgins, 
not necessarily in the flesh, but in faith and 
morals, as St. Augustine justly explains 
in his Sermon on these words of the Apos 
tle : ( ( I have espoused you to one husband, 
that I may present you as a chaste virgin 
to Christ." By a chaste virgin he under 
stands the whole Church of Corinth, in 
which it is evident that all were not virgins 
in the flesh, since the Apostle in his First 
Epistle admonishes married people of their 
duties. ^ In this parable, therefore, all those 
are virgins who are not corrupted in their 
faith and morals, and who, declining 
from evil, do not defile their souls. But, 

* Epistle 114. 


because it is not sufficient for perfect 
justice to decline from evil, but also to 
do good, therefore the second condition 
is added, that we be prudent, not fool 
ish. Nor must we think it sufficient, 
if we injure no one, nor kill any one, nor 
steal, nor bear false testimony ; but we 
must consider our last end, and adopt the 
means to attain it. And because this end 
is eternal life, and the means the merit of 
good works, therefore the third condition is 
added, that our lamp be lighted, which sig 
nifies good works. This St. Augustine 
teaches in the above-mentioned place, and 
our Lord Himself, where He says : "So let 
your light shine before men, that they may 
see your good works, and glorify your leather 
who is in heaven/ 

But since good works spring from charity 
as from a root, and cannot be preserved 
unless nourished by the same charity, as a 
lamp necessarily goes out if oil be wanting; 
therefore, a fourth condition is required, 
that the prudent virgin always have oil in 
her lamp. ^ St. Augustine teaches that 
charity is signified by oil, because, as oil is 
superior to all liquids, so charity is superior 
to all virtues, according to the Apostle : 
"And I show unto you yet a more excellent 
way;" and again: "And now there remain 
faith, hope, charity, these three ; but the 
greater of these is charity. 3 If, there 
fore, we should prefer anything in our heart, 
or make it equal with charity, immediately 


she departs ; for she ought either to have . 
the first place, and reign in our heart, or 
she will leave us. And because oil is a 
most subtile liquid, which easily ascends 
above other things, the power of the oil of 
charity is so great in ascending, that if it 
be poured out on the soul of a public sin 
ner, immediately it draws that soul up, and 
of a sinner makes a saint, of a carnal man 
makes a spiritual man. I will even venture 
to say, that if this oil were poured on the 
souls of the damned, or could drop on the 
devils themselves, we should immediately 
behold them all ascend on high. And if, 
on the contrary, this oil were to desert the 
souls of the holy angels, apostles, martyrs, 
and virgins, they would quickly descend 
down into hell. Behold, then, the excellence 
of this oil, and how justly those virgins are 
called foolish who have not this oil. But 
there is also another reason why charity is 
signified by oil, because it maketh things 
that are hard and rough soft and pliable. 
This oil renders the yoke sweet, of which 
our Lord speaks, "My yoke is sweet." What 
made the yoke of obedience sweet to the 
Apostles, of going into the whole world and 
preaching the Gospel to every creature, but 
the oil of charity ? What made the yoke 
of patience sweet to the martyrs, to endure 
so great and unheard of torments, but the 
oil of chanty ? What made the yoke of 
poverty, of chastity, and of obedience, so 
sweet to many thousands of religious men 


and women, but the yoke of charity ? No 
thing is more sweet to a lover than to show 
his love for his Beloved by doing or endu 
ring great and difficult things for his sake. 
There now remaineth a fifth condition, 
which is the most important of all, being 
especially commanded by our Lord in this 
parable, viz., watchfulness: "Watch ye 
therefore, because you know not the clay 
nor the hour." And in order that these 
words may be deeply impressed upon the 
hearts of the faithful, He constantly repeats 
Watch;" and again, in St. Matthew: 
"Wherefore, be you also ready, because at 
what hour you know not the Son of man 
will come ;" and in St. Mark : " Watch ye 
therefore, for you know not when the Lord 
of the house cometh : at even, or at mid 
night, or at the cock crowing, or in the 
morning ; lest coming on a sudden, he find 
you sleeping. And what I say to you I say 
to all : Watch." And in St. Luke : " Bless 
ed are those servants whom the Lord when 
he cometh shall find watching." And by 
the apostle Peter He speaketh : " Be pru 
dent therefore, and watch in prayer ;" and 
by St. Paul also : Therefore let us not 
sleep, as others do ; but let us watch and 
be sober;" and by St. John: "Behold I 
come as a thief: blessed is he that watch- 
eth." All these passages signify, that the 
coming of the Lord to judgment, whether 
at the end of the world, or at each one s 
death in particular, is uncertain; and 


therefore God requires of us that we should 
always watch, waiting in expectation of His 
coming, that so He may find us prepared, 
and may not be compelled to exclude us, 
with the foolish virgins, from the marriage- 
feast. Wherefore, to " sleep" meaneth 
nothing more than to be careless of death 
and judgment, or so to live as never to care 
or think of so important a matter, on which 
dependeth eternal salvation. But corporal 
sleep is not forbidden the faithful, other 
wise it would not be said in the parable, 
l They all slumbered and slept :" only 
forgetfulness and want of consideration are 

Every Christian therefore, to whom the 
salvation of his soul is dear, ought every 
day, morning and evening, shutting the 
door of his heart against all other business, 
attentively consider that this day or night 
may possibly be his last : and therefore he 
should seriously watch, lest he be found 
unprepared. All men dislike the thought 
of death, and gladly turn their mind to the 
consideration of something else; but the 
sick man dislikes the bitter physic, and yet 
through love of life he willingly takes it. 
So also it behoves a prudent man to esteem 
the loss of his soul more than the fear of 
death ; and therefore, again and again, he 
should think that there is no hour in which 
he may not die. For when this thought 
deeply descends into the bottom of our 
heart, it will soon change the whole 


and from, carnal make him spiritual, from 
a sinner a saint : so that he will no more 
fear, but love the coming of the Lord. Not 
without reason, then, does our Lord so fre 
quently exhort us to watch, nor Ecclesias- 
ticus to admonish us : " In all thy works 
remember thy last end, and thou shalt never 
sin." (chap, vii.) For who, remembering 
that he is hastening to judgment, and that 
quickly he will have to stand before the 
divine tribunal, can dare to sin before his 
Judge ? We are all hastening every mo 
ment to judgment; but yet, so great is 
human blindness, that even on the journey 
itself we offend our Judge, and most justly 
provoke His anger against us. Who is 
there, when condemned to suffer death, and 
being led out to execution, would laugh 
and joke, and speak of his former crimes, or 
of attaining dignities, and gaining money 
by traffic, unless he were mad ? Now, we 
are all certainly condemned to death, nor 
can any son of Adam escape the sen 
tence: our mortal life is nothing but a 
journey towards death: but yet, on this 
journey, which cannot be a long one, how do 
the generality of Christians act ? What 
do they think of, what do they speak of, 
what are they busy about, but honours, 
riches, pleasures, and even wickedness, 
as^ if they would never die ! And what is 
this but to sleep over serious things, and to 
watch over foolish things ? 

Justly, then, doth our Lord cry out: 


" Watch, watch;" blessed are those who, 
excited by these words, reflect where they 
are, and whither they are going, and so 
endeavour to have their lamp burning and 
filled with oil, that when the cry shall be 
heard, " Behold the spouse cometh, go ye 
forth to meet him/ they may with joy run 
forth to meet the Bridegroom, and enter 
with him into the marriage. Bat woe to 
them who, forgetful of this, and deaf to the 
voice of God, shall be found sleeping with 
their lamps extinguished: being excluded 
from the delights of the marriage-feast, 
they will in vain exclaim, "Lord, Lord, open 
unto us/ 



HAVING explained a few of the parables 
which are to be found in the gospel, there 
now only remains the explanation of those 
names which are used in St. Paul s First 
Epistle to the Corinthians; these are the 
"Prize" and "Crown." Of the former 
the Apostle thus speaks : " Know you not 
that they that run in the race, all run 
indeed, but one receive th the prize ; so run 
that you may obtain." (chap. ix. 24.) The 
same Apostle in his Epistle to the Corin 
thians teaches, that by the "prize" eternal, 


happiness is signified; he says, " But one 
thing I do, forgetting the things that are 
behind, and stretching forth myself to those 
that are before, I press towards the mark, 
to the prize of the supernal vocation of God 
in Christ Jesus/ (chap. iii. 13, 14. Where 
fore the prize is in heaven, and to it the 
Almighty invites us ^by His Son Christ 
Jesus. The prize which the kings of this 
world offer us, is no very valuable object ; 
but our " heavenly prize" is in every way 
most glorious, whether we consider God 
who promises it, a Prince of infinite power 
and glory, of whom the prophet sings, " Thy 
magnificence is elevated above the hea 
vens ;" or whether we remember, that the 
combatants are His children and the bro 
thers of Christ, whom the^ King their 
Father, would not certainly invite to run 
in the race, unless the prize was so great 
that it might justly be desired, even by the 
sons of God. 

But it is more important for us to know, 
what is the meaning of running for the 
prize, and by what art we may so run as to 
be able to gain it. To run for the prize 
means nothing more, than faithfully to ob 
serve all the commandments of the Lord 
our God. That the " race 7 signifies the 
law of the Lord, David testifies where he 
says, " Blessed are the undefiled in the 

way, who walk in the law of the Lord I 

have run the way of thy commandments, 
when thou didst enlarge my heart." (Psalm 


cxviii.) Wherefore, they who run "the 
way" of the commandments, run in the 
race for the prize. Now the art of so run 
ning that we may gain the prize, includes 
three points : First, we must not go out of 
the course, for they who do so, however 
quickly they may run, will never reach the 

foal, because they run not for the prize, 
ut at an uncertainty. This the Apostle 
tells us he carefully avoided; " I therefore 
so run, not as at an uncertainty." What 
is it to run out of the race, except not to 
run in the way of the commandments, and 
to turn aside to the right or to the left ? For 
example : the law says, " Thou shalt love 
thy neighbour as thyself;" he that does this, 
runs in the race and for the prize. But he 
who loves his neighbour with so great a 
love as not to fear offending God for his 
sake, he turns aside to the right and runs 
out of the race ; he runs not for the prize, 
but at an uncertainty. And the more 
benefits he bestows upon that individual 
who becomes an "idol" to him, the more 
does he wander, and the farther does he 
depart from the prize. But on the other 
hand, he that loves not his neighbour as 
much as he ought to do, and when he sees 
him in want, and " shuts up his bowels from 
him," as St. John expresses it, then he 
turns aside to the left, and neither runs in 
the race nor for the prize, even though he 
should appear to perform many good works. 
We must, therefore, love our neighbours as 


ourselves, neither more nor less ; _ that is, 
we ought so to act towards our neighbour, 
as to do to him, what we should wish to be 
done to ourselves. This is the explanation 
given by Christ our teacher, who gave the 
commandment. What I have said con 
cerning the love of our neighbour, which is 
the positive command, may also be said of 
the negative commands. For he that steals, 
declines to the right of the commandment, 
" Thou shalt not steal/ and thus turns 
aside from the course ; he however that 
steals not, but squanders away his own 
substance, declines to the left, and in like 
manner turns aside from the course. But 
the just man, who alone remains in the 
course, would no less depart from it if he 
stole, than if he squandered his goods, be 
cause liberality, which relates to justice, 
has two opposite vices, avarice and prodi 
gality. The conclusion is, that he who 
wishes to remain in the race, must be 
entirely free from mortal sin. 

The second condition is, that he who 
wishes to gain the prize, must run quickly 
and with perseverance. He runs quickly, 
who observes the "commandments" with a 
fervent will, according to the words of the 
Psalmist, " Blessed is the man that feareth 
the Lord, in His commands he delights 
exceedingly;" and the Apostle says, "Fer 
vent in spirit serving the Lord." He runs 
with perseverance, who is never fatigued 
nor ceases running, knowing what is writ- 


ten, " He only that perseveres to the end 
shall be saved/ But to run quickly, not 
to be fatigued, nor to interrupt our course 
these seem almost contrary to one another, 
or at least very difficult ; for he that runs 
quickly, is soon fatigued and ceases run 
ning ; whilst he that wishes not to be tired, 
goes slowly and perseveres on his course at 
a moderate pace. These remarks are true, 
and therefore few arrive at the prize. It is, 
however, absolutely necessary for him that 
wishes to gain the prize, to run both quickly 
and with perseverance, because the time is 
short and the way is long. But if Chris 
tians wish to imitate those that run for a 
corruptible crown, they can easily run 
quickly and without intermission for " an 
incorruptible crown." What do those do 
who contend for the corruptible prize? 
They carry nothing burthensome, they cast 
off their garments, that so they may run 
free and unencumbered. This, therefore, 
should Christians do ; they should cast off 
the burthens of worldly cares, and the gar 
ments of carnal desires, or at least every 
inordinate affection to earthly goods. And 
when this is done, they must glory not in 
their own strength, but place all their hope 
in God ; then they will not be fatigued by 
running quickly in the race. This is not 
my doctrine, but that of Isaias and St. 
Paul ; the former thus speaks : "But they 
that hope in the Lord shall renew their 
strength They shall run and not be 


weary, they shall walk and not faint." 
(chap. xl. 31.) And the Apostle writes: 
" This therefore I say brethren, the time is 
short; it remaineth, that they also who 
have wives, be as if they had none. And 
they that weep, as though they wept not ; 
and they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not ; 
and they that buy, as though they possessed 
not. And they that used this world, as if 
they used it not; for the fashion of this 
world passeth away." (1 Epist. to Corinth, 
vii. 29, <fcc.) By these words, the Apostle 
does not forbid Christians from marrying, 
nor from weeping in adversity, nor rejoicing 
in prosperity, nor purchasing necessary 
things, or using the goods of this world ; 
but he admonishes us, in all these things to 
use that moderation, and to be as little 
attached to them, as if they did not belong 
to us. 

The devout Melania is an example for us 
in this respect; she was a noble Roman 
lady, of whom St. Jerome thus speaks in 
his Epitaph on Blosilla : " St.. Melania is 
a pattern of true nobility among the Chris 
tians of our time ; for whilst the corpse of 
her husband was still warm, not yet being 
buried, she lost her two sons together. I 
am^about to relate a thing almost incredi 
ble, but Christ is my witness it is not false. 
Who would not suppose that she would tear 
her hair, her garments, and strike her 
breast, like one mad ? but not one tear did 
she shed, she stood unmoved, and throwing 


herself at the feet of Christ, as if she ac 
tually embraced Him, she smiled saying, 
" More freely shall I now serve thee, 
Lord, because thou hast delivered me from 
so great a burthen/ Thus St. Jerome, 
who by this example shows us who those 
are that have wives, and children, and 
other goods of this world, as if they had 
them not, in order that they might run for 
the prize more freely. But we have a still 
more moving example in holy Job, who in 
one day lost all his sons and daughters, as 
well as his whole substance ; and thus he 
lay full of ulcers on a dunghill, who a little 
while before, was esteemed most happy 
among all the Orientals. And yet, as if all 
these misfortunes did not concern him, he 
uttered these words so full of wisdom: 
" Naked came I out of my mother s womb, 
and naked shall I return thither ; the Lord 
gave and the Lord hath taken away ; as it 
hath pleased the Lord, so is it done ; 
blessed be the name of the Lord." (chap. i. 
21.) In fine, St. Peter and the other Apos 
tles who first folio wed^ Christ in running for 
the prize, that they might teach us what is 
required in the same race, thus speak: 
Behold we have left all things, and have 
followed thee; what therefore shall we 
have ?" our Lord approving what they had 
clone, thus answers, clearly promising them 
the prize : " Amen, I say to you, that you 
who have followed me, in the regeneration, 
when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of 


his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve 
seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." 
(St. Matthew xix. 28.) 

The third condition is, that he who wishes 
for the prize, must be united with Christ. 
For as the Apostle saith, " All run indeed, 
but one receiveth the prize;" now this 
<f one" is doubtless our Saviour, who " hath 
rejoiced as a giant to run the way ;" and of 
Him St. John speaks : " And no man hath 
ascended into heaven, but he that descended 
from heaven, the Son of man who is in 
heaven." (chap. iii. 13.) But Christ hath 
not ascended alone, but with all those who 
were " one" with Him ; that is, who were 
true and living members of His body, of 
which He is the head. Wherefore all who 
run labour in vain, even though they should 
give all their goods to the poor, and deliver 
their body to be burned, unless they are 
joined to Christ by faith and charity, and 
become one with Him, as He says in St. 
John, " That they may be one, as we also 
are one, I in them, and thou in me, that 
they may be made perfect in one." (chap, 
xvii. 22.) 

But there is also another way of being 
united with Christ, which in a wonderful 
manner helps us to run quickly and with 
perseverance. Christ as man ran for the 
prize, although as God He is the "prize" 
itself; He is " true God and life eternal," 
as St. John testifies; and this also our 
Saviour himself tells us, " I am the way, 


and the truth, and the life. 5 As the truth, 
He guides us ; as the way, He leads us 
after Him; as the life, He brings us to 
Himself. In order to obtain the prize then, 
nothing is more useful than, for us never to 
turn away our eyes from Him, but to ex 
claim with the prophet : " My eyes are ever 
towards the Lord/ He that keeps the eye 
of his soul united with his prize, neither 
sees nor hears what his neighbours say or 
do, whether they smile or mock at him ; he 
heeds not the opinions of others, whether 
they praise or dispraise him ; but he says 
with David, " And I became as a man 
that heareth not; 3 and with the Apostle, 
"But to me it is a very small thing to be 
judged by you, or by man s day." The 
nearer he approaches the prize, the more 
does he see the greatness of it; and this 
greatness gives him additional strength, 
and induces him though wearied and faint 
ing, not to interrupt his course. Wherefore, 
whoever aspires ^ after this heavenly prize, 
must not turn aside from the course of the 
divine commands, he must run quickly and 
with perseverance; and being joined to 
Christ with true faith and charity, he must 
never turn away his eyes from the prize. 



THE last name given to eternal happiness, 
is " a crown of justice/ of which St. Paul 
thus speaks in the same chapter that he 
mentions the prize : " And every one that 
striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself 
from all things : and they indeed that they 
may receive a corruptible crown ; but we 
an incorruptible one." (1 Corinth, ix. 25.) 
In this passage by the word " mastery/ is 
not meant the race in the course, but rather 
a contest or battle ; and that this compa 
rison is different from the former, the words 
following prove : " I therefore so run, not 
as at an uncertainty : I so fight, not as one 
beating the air:" and so also do these 
words addressed to Timothy : "I have 
fought a good fight, I have finished my 
course, I have kept my faith. As to the 
rest, there is laid up for me a crown of jus 
tice/ <fcc. (2 to Timothy, iv. 7.) .In both 
these passagq St. Paul distinguishes the 
course from the fight ; and in one of the 
comparisons he uses the word " prize," and 
in the other the word " crown," which 
names are evidently distinct. 

Now by the "crown" is meant eternal 
happiness, and this is called by St. Paul 
" a crown of justice," because it is given as 


a reward for good works. In St. James s 
Epistle it is called " the crown of life," be 
cause it comprehends life eternal. By St. 
Peter it is named " a never-fading crown 
of glory." In fine, the prophet Isaias says: 
" In that day the Lord of hosts shall be a 
crown of glory, and a garland of joy to the 
residue of his people, "(xxviii. 5.) From this 
passage we may conclude, that the crown 
of which St. Paul speaks, and which is 
given to the victorious in battle, is a prize 
most high and noble, since God Himself 
will be the crown encircling and adorn 
ing the heads of the residue of His people 
that is, of those few among His people who 
shall gain the victory, by having been 
valiant in war. And as ( many are called, 
but few are chosen" a truth evident from 
the testimony of Scripture ; so the crown of 
the Saints will be the more glorious in the 
day ^ of judgment, because so few will 
obtain it. 

Let us now consider what is the nature 
of the contest we are engaged in, and what 
we must do to gain the victory. The con 
test indeed is most terrible, and the strug 
gle most dangerous, espec^illy if it be 
compared with that contest in which men 
on earth engage, for a corruptible crown. 
The Apostle alludes to the games of the 
circus, which took place in the presence of 
the people. ^ But the combatants fought 
with men like themselves, and used the 
same weapons, and were equally exposed to 


the danger of popular derision or ignominy. 
But Christians have to fight with enemies 
whom they see not, and by whom they 
themselves are observed: they are most 
numerous, strong, and crafty ; their arms 
are not alike ; the contest is carried on be 
fore God and his angels, and for a crown 
of life eternal, and at the risk of incurring 
-everlasting death : in fine, the contest is 
not easy or imaginary, but real and most 
dreadful. Our antagonists are demons, 
whom the Scripture at one time names 
lions and at another, dragons and basi 
lisks. And we also have traitors in our 
own houses that is, in our bodies, the 
concupiscence of the flesh which wars 
against the spirit, as St. Peter saith: 
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers 
and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from 
carnal desires which war against the soul/ 
(1 Epist. xi.) Moreover, what is still most 
miserable, this contest takes place at the 
same time that we run in the race : and 
therefore the Apostle joins these two toge 
ther that we may know how, whilst running 
for the prize, we are impeded throughout 
our whole course by these enemies, and 
hence that we must both run and fight at 
the same time. ! if Christians did but 
consider these truths and know their true 
condition, truly they would not so easily 
squander away their time in temporal 
trifles, in jokes, plays, and banquets ; in 
accumulating money and seeking after 


honours, as if their chief happiness con 
sisted in these things : but they would lis 
ten to the Apostle crying out to them : 
" Therefore take unto you the armour of 
God, that you may be able to resist in the 
evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. 
Stand therefore, having your loins girt 
about with truth, and having on the breast 
plate of justice. And in all things taking* 
the shield of faith, wherewith you may be 
able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the 
most wicked one. And take unto you the 
helmet of salvation, and the sword of the 
Spirit, (which is the word of God.) By 
all prayer and supplication praying at all 
times in the Spirit/ &c. (Epist. to Ephe- 
sians, vi. 13, &c.) ! what an exhortation 
is this ; how full of terror how earnest ! 
especially if we ponder on the words, " By 
all prayer and supplication, praying at all 
times." And yet, how many of us so act as 
if we neither had to run in the race, nor 
fight in the battle ! 

And now, I ask, what is to be done, that 
we prove victorious in such a dreadful con 
test ? St. Paul tells us when he says : "And 
every one that striveth for the mastery, re- 
fraineth himself from all things: and they 
indeed that they may receive a corruptible 
crown ; but we an incorruptible one/ The 
meaning of these words is this : those com 
batants, that they might obtain a cor 
ruptible crown, abstain from all those things 
which might weaken their body, and render 


them unfit to engage in such a ludicrous 
contest, viz., from excessive eating and 
drinking, from carnal delights, from domes 
tic cares, and from all other things, however 
pleasant or useful, which might retard or 
prevent the victory. We therefore who 
labour for " an incorruptible crown," ought 
much more to refrain from every thing that 
may weaken our soul, and render it unfit 
for that terrible fight, and for running the 
race in the course. And what things weaken 
the soul ? Excessive eating, indulgence in 
sleep, too frequent visiting, hunting, bois 
terous laughter and singing ; not reading 
good books, not praying, not meditating, 
not bewailing our sins, nor bringing forth 
worthy fruits of ^ penance. From these 
ought we to abstain, if we wish our soul to 
be strong and fit to run in the race and 
fight in battle. " Take heed," saith our 
Saviour, " lest your hearts be overcharged 
with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the 
cares of this life, and that day come upon 
you suddenly." But on the other hand, 
the food of the soul which makes it strong, 
is fasting ; the refreshment of the soul is 
prayer; the sleep of the soul holy contem 
plation; the purgation from noxious 
humours an humble confession of our 
sins ; the joy and delight of the soul tears 
of compunction ; and the triumph of the 
soul, the crucifixion of the flesh and the 
concupiscence thereof. " They that are 
Christ s," saith St. Paul, " have crucified 


their flesh, with the vices and concupis 
cences:" and again, "I so fight, not as 
one beating the air : but I chastise my 
body, and bring it into subjection, lest per 
haps when I have preached to others, I my 
self should become a cast-away." Behold 
the true explanation of these words, " Every 
one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth 
himself from all things." I so fight, he 
says, in the contest that I abstain from all 
those things, which can please the body 
and which wage war against me ; these are 
my carnal concupiscences. But by chas 
tising my body by fastings and watchings, 
and other mortifications of the flesh, I re 
duce it into subjection that it may not 
rebel against the soul, nor serve my 

But who does not f3ar and tremble with 
his whole heart, when he remembers these 

words: "Lest perhaps when I have 

preached to others, I myself should become 
a cast-away?" If this vessel of election 
called by God Himself to be an Apostle, 
and who was rapt up into the third heaven, 
feared lest he should become a "cast-away," 
if he did not chastise his body and bring 
it into subjection, who amongst us will not 
also fear to be condemned, unless we crucify 
our flesh with its vices and concupiscences? 
This example of the Apostle ought truly to 
admonish all men, that they must not ven 
ture to hope for the crown, unless they be 
Beriously converted; unless they bring forth 


worthy fruits of penance, and endeavour by 
every possible means to bring the flesh into 
subjection to the spirit. But how deplorable 
are the blindness and foolishness of the 
many, who mind not these things, nor 
abstain from what is unlawful, but live so 
securely as if they had received a most as 
sured promise from God, that their salva 
tion was certain ! But this is only another 
proof, as we have already said, that few are 
saved, and " that many are called but few 
are chosen." 

Unto Thee then do I fly, good Lord ! 
I am thy servant, and the son of thy hand 
maid : I desire with my whole soul that 
heavenly prize and most glorious crown, 
which Thou hast prepared and promised to 
those that love Thee. I know the greatness 
of the contest and the length of the course ; 
I know my weakness, and I confess before 
Thee who searchest the reins^and the heart, 
that I possess little or no virtue : neither 
am I ignorant of the great power and cruel 
hatred of my invisible enemies, who lament 
that we so insignificant are destined for that 
immense glory, from which they fell by 
pride. " Enlighten my eyes that I never 
sleep in death ;" increase my strength, lest 
I faint on the way : may Thy grace defend 
me, " lest at any time my enemy say : ] 
have prevailed against him." But what I 
ask for myself, I ask for all my Brethren 
also ; and especially for those placed by 
Thee in high dignities, whether ecclesias- 


tical or secular : their danger is so much 
the -greater, as their functions are more 
excellent. But the more glorious will be 
their crown, if they perform their duties 
properly ; and on the other hand, the more 
terrible the punishment if through their 
fault those souls perish, whom Thou hast 
redeemed by Thy precious blood.