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THE GROUNDWORK

OF THE

CHRISTIAN VIRTUES

THE GROUNDWORK OF

THE CHRISTIAN VIRTUES.

BY

ARCHBISHOP ULLATHORNE.

" The soul advances in light as she advances in humility, and the

knowledge ofhumility is the knowledge ofGod and of self. "

SIMEON JUNIOR THEOLOGUS.

SEVENTH EDITION.

BURNS & GATES: LONDON.

BENZIGER BROTHERS : NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGOa

To the Reverend Mothers and the Sisters ofJ the English

<i>

Dominican Congregation of St. Catherine of Sienna.

DEAR SISTERS IN CHRIST,

You will give a hospitable welcome to this book.

It is yours by right of origin, yours by right of possession, and

yours by right of your prayers for its success.

It took its be

ginning from instructions directed to the formation of your first

members, and the light of its principles is already implanted in

your minds and hearts.

The holy Bishop St. Aldhelm, who was the first Englishman,

as he tells us, who ever cultivated literature, dedicated his chief

work to a conventual circle of " Christ s most holy Virgins " ; and

he assigns these reasons for thus addressing them : their purity of

life, their loyalty to their vows, their concord in religious discipline,

and their sagacious pursuit of the sweet wisdom hived in the holy

Scriptures.

He tells them that he never received their letters

without lifting his hands to Heaven in gratitude; of the soul to run their course with energy and skill.

of grace and handmaids of Christ.

and that,

touched with their devout urbanity, he gave thanks to the King

of Heaven, who had given him to behold on earth such daughters

He says that, under the

motherly guidance of Hedelitha, those Virgins of Christ were

well instructed in holy doctrines, and well trained in the exercises

For Hede

litha I may substitute the names of Margaret and Imelda, the

vi

DEDICATION.

first venerable Mothers of your religious life, now happily with

God.

To the motives assigned to his spiritual daughters by St.

Aldhelm twelve hundred years ago, for dedicating his book

to them, I may add one more.

Having watched over your

Congregation from its cradle, having co-operated with its holy

Foundress in its formation and expansion, I have desired, among

the responsibilities of the episcopal office, to complete this book, struction, which your filial gratitude may pass on to the genera

tions that come after you.

affection, as some memorial of my solicitude for your solid in

and to place it in your hands as some token of my paternal

Next to the God of all condescension, who is the lover of

humble souls, to whom but to you should I dedicate this book ?

So long as your motto expresses your life, so long as you seek

God ALONE, and find in Him the supreme object of your desires ;

so long as you are earnest as well in the second object of your peace of God be with you, and the fragrance of your cheerful

whom Christ has redeemed ; so long will the charity and sweet

life, to draw to God the poor, the ignorant, and

the suffering,

virtues will attract other souls to follow your example.

This, my

dear Sisters, is

the

earnest

prayer of your devoted Father in

Christ,

4< W. B. ULLATHORNE.

BIRMINGHAM, April 10, 1882,

CONTENTS.

LECTURE I.

THE DIVINE LAW OF PROBATION

LECTURE II. LECTURE LECTURE III. IV.

.

ON THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN VIRTUE

ON THE DIFFICULTIES OF VIRTUE

ON ON THE THE NATURE GROUNDS OF OF HUMILITY HUMILITY

LECTURE V.

.

LECTURE VI.

ON HUMILITY TOWARDS OUR NEIGHBOUR

LECTURE VII.

.

.

.

,

,

.

.

,

How HUMILITY RESPONDS TO THE BENIGNITY OF GOD

LECTURE VIII.

THE DIVINE MASTER OF HUMILITY

.

LECTURE IX.

.

,

ON HUMILITY AS THE RECEPTIVE FOUNDATION OF THE

DIVINE GIFTS AND VIRTUES

1717

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PAGE

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78

108

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132

159

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viii

CONTENTS.

LECTURE X.

ON THE MAGNANIMOUS CHARACTER OF HUMILITY .

LECTURE XI.

ON THE DETESTABLE VICE OF PRIDE .

.

.

LECTURE LECTURE LECTURE LECTURE LECTURE XIII. XIV. XVI. XIT. XV.

.

.

THEWORLD WITHOUT HUMILITY

.

.

.

.

ON THE FOOLISH VICE OF VANITY

THE HUMILITY OF FAITH

ON THE SCHOOLS OF HUMILITY .,,.,<

ON HUMILITY AS THE COUNTERPART OF CHARITY

.

.

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PAGH

239

.263

.290

.318

360 333

388

LECTURE /,

THE DIVINE LAW OF PROBATION.

" The Lord your God trieth you, that it may appearwhetheryou love Him of the Christian virtues, by which the soul ascends to God, can

only rest firmly and rise securely upon the receptive virtue of

with all your heart, and with all your soul, or not." DEUTERONOMY xiii. 3.

/ TT S HE noblest building demands the costliest foundation to

A

secure its firmness and solidity.

The magnificent structure

wonderful strength a virtue when most costly brought to to its perfection.

humility,

our corrupted nature, yet of

This virtue of the will it keeps the soul in her just and true position, it

And whilst as a virtuous

has its ground in the nature of things, its reason in the unchange

able order of justice, and the whole knowledge of God and of

one s self for the compass of its motive.

force

opens her powers to every good and perfect gift that descends

from the Father of lights.

In our former course of lectures we considered the endowments

of man in their relations with his final end, and took a general

survey of the broad and deep foundations of this virtue, and we

thus prepared the way for a more precise and exact consideration

of its nature, its origin, its force and efficacy ; and upon this we

have now to enter.

We shall have further to consider the relations

which humility bears to the other Christian virtues, its qualities as

their essential groundwork, and as the preparation, sustaining

virtue, power, and and a protection virtue without of them which all. there is no Christian virtue.

For the foundation of the

Christian virtues is itself a strong and a most comprehensive

As the moral groundwork of God s building in the soul, this

virtue has rightly obtained the name of humility.

i*

For as the

2

THE DIVINE LAWOFPROBATION.

word humus, from which it is derived, signifies the lowly ground

that is opened by the labours of man to the fertilizing influence,

of the heavens, humilitas^ or humility, is the lowly condition of

the soul, opened by the self-cleansing and self-subduing labours

of the spiritual man to the benign influences of God.

God alone is independent ; every creature is dependent on

God.

But as man is made for God, he has a vast capacity, and

wants in full proportion to his capacity for God, and is there

fore immeasurably more dependent on his Creator than the

irrational creatures, whose wants are limited to this world.

To

be deeply conscious of this dependence is to have the soul filled

with the most important moral truth with which we are concerned;

and to enter with good-will into this truth is to place ourselves on the

securefoundation ofall justice. Thisdependencehas its foundation both as our first cause and as our final end :

in the divine pre-eminence and absolute sovereignty of God, and

in His bountiful goodness, and in the need we have of receiving

His divine help and bounty, that we may be united with Him,

as our first cause,

that we may receive His continual influence ; and as our final end,

that by His graces and blessings, as we are made to His images

we may come to our Divine Original.

So dependent is the ray

of when light we upon are the no sun, longer that when separated it expires in darkness ;

and so dependent is our soul upon the divine beneficence, that

subject to His gracious of all those virtues whereby man is perfected unto God. light to the children of belief, whilst to the children of this world

it takes the appearance of an obscure and unintelligible cloud.

Promise was both light and cloud, so this virtue of humility is

influence we

decline into a moral death.

As humility springs in the order of

justice from the truth of our dependence on God, it is the virtue

proper to the intellectual and moral creature, and the foundation

But as the pillar that led Israel

from Egypt to the Land of

For the world

It enlightens the humble ; it perplexes the proud. the nature of man, that through its divine power and influence the

hearts, then came humility from Heaven in the person of God and

for long ages pride had usurped the place of humility in human

sequently without the sense of dependence on God. But when

without humility is the world without the sense of God, and con

souls But of before men might entering return into to these God. great subjects we shall have to

THE DIVINE LAW OFPROBATION.

3

consider the divine law of probation, which has its reason in

the law of subjection, and which establishes the connecting link

between the subjects of our present and of our past course of

lectures.

Lest, however, what we have already said on the great

qualities of humility should seem overcharged, especially to those

who we shall have at once hitherto point seen out but two facts its cloudy that place side, the and victorious who can force see

nothing in it but an amiable weakness or a shameful degradation, by the divine exercise of humility the fallen race of man was

The first is this,

of this virtue on invincible foundations. this, that by the exercise of this virtue the Christian soul is trans

that

redeemed from evil and brought back to God.

The second is A virtue that carries the soul over from her own founda

planted from dependence on her own native resources to depen

dence on the inexhaustible resources of God, and from reliance on

her own feeble self-support to reliance on the strong support of

God.

tion to place her on a divine foundation must be strong; and

this virtue is humility.

He gives to us the light of From this order all justice proceeds, and through voluntary order of dependence in the spiritual creation, which

determines its own free conduct by law and virtue, or by neglect

ing them becomes a failure.

In the material universe the order of dependence is fixed and

creation, which is without understanding or will ; and there is a

determined by the will of God, the first Mover of all things, unless

for great spiritual purposes He changes that order, and brings it

under the higher motive of a higher law, that it may serve to the rely, what is inferior in it is perfected by what is superior.

God is the fountain of law.

law,

that by its guidance we may rule our wills in conformity with His

divine will, which expresses both the eternal order of things and

the order of progress in the creature from what is good to what

is better.

justice ail good is obtained. There are two orders of dependence

in the creation : there is a necessitated order

in the materia

saving and sanctification of souls.

Even in

that fixed order

and the just dependence and due order of the of material dependence world, on God, on which whose we needy habitually clients But

in the spiritual world of created intelligences, where wills are free,

we are, is one thing as it exists in the law of justice, and another

as it exists in fact

that is to say, as it exists in the actual confer-

4

THE DIVINE LAW OFPROBATION,

mity of our will to the will of God as expressed in the law of

For the law of justice may be in our mind and con be willingly subject to God, that we may be in just order and

creation is necessarily dependent on God, our spiritual soul must

right dependence on God, to receive His sovereign bounty : a

truth which redounds to our honour and dignity as free and

intelligent spirits made to the image of God.

justice.

science whilst our will is far from it.

Thus whilst the material

There is one truth more of vast importance in this relation.

To every soul a certain portion of the elements of this material

world is attached in the wonderful organization of the human

body; and notwithstanding the general laws which regulate

material things, the free soul exercises its free-will upon the body

and upon the things dependent on the body that are external to The light of justice is therefore planted in our mind and the

is made to be the servant of spirit.

canGod for His high spiritual purposes do the same! For matter

stant order of any part of the material creation, how much more

on him, yet without seeming to interfere with the fixed and con

change the material order of things in so far as they are dependent

it, and either subjects them to order or throws them by evil con

duct or neglect into disorder.

Now if the will of man can thus

the sense just of and God due in order our heart, of and the choice is left to our will

whether we will conform ourselves by the exercise of virtue to

our dependence on God or not.

But

this moral conformity of our disposition and will to our

real

position before God, and the subordination of our will to the

known will of God, is expressed by the subjection of our mind the irrational creature, and by this willing subjection we not only

Subjection is therefore to our free natures what dependence is to

able to receive from ; God the gifts that bring us to perfection.

jection, which is the becoming predisposition on our part, we are

and will to the

mind and will of God ; and in virtue of this sub

consult our greater good, which comes to us from

the divine

superiority, but we give that reverence and honour to God which

is due to Him.

Yel this reverence and honour, as St. Thomas

observes, is not given to God as though a benefit to Him, to

benefit, because our perfection consists in subjecting ourselves to

whose God, even glory as no everything creature is can perfected add anything, by subjection but it returns to its superior. to our

THE DIVINE LAWOFPROBATION.

5

atmosphere through perfected subjection through to the subjection sun, and the to the soul soul, is united the

So the body is

that the Book of Wisdom says: "God created man indestructible,

subjection to Him,

subjection she receives from Him whatever is needful for her

perfection.*

The soul in her substance and powers is the free creation of

God, who in creating willed that she should exist for ever.

As

to God through

and by reason

of

and to the image of his

own likeness he made Him".f

Man

has no power, therefore, over his own spiritual existence.

Inde

pendently, is necessary moreover, for her natural of her own functions, will, the such soul as the receives gift of whatever reason necessary for her union with God and her perfection without the

is the Supreme Object of the soul, she cannot receive what is

free subjection of her will and the voluntary dependence of her

for a good unspeakably higher than her nature, as God Himself

and the natural sense of good and evil.

But as she is destined

hope on God.

First, because divine gifts in the moral order

must have a willing subject.

Secondly, because their, greatness

and goodness must be gratefully recognized.

Thirdly, because

the lowly receiver of gifts so high must humbly understand and

feel that they are not her own, but come from the bounty of God.

Fourthly, because the soul must willingly open herself in response that it brings her to the majesty and submits her to the loving

Yet, so far is this willing subjection from debasing the soul, lessened by subjection to the Divine Nature ; on the contrary, it subjection to God is not a subjection by In this subjection the soul deserts her self-

higher than we are.

than ourselves, but a movement towards what is incomparably

descending, but by ascending ; is not a deference to things lower

to the divine gifts to make them fruitful.

Fifthly, because the

will must enter into the intention of her Divine Benefactor.

condescension of God, which brings honour to her nature and

dignity to her character.

Nor is the freedom of our nature

is wonderfully increased ; we are set free in by mind the by possession the posses

sion of greater truth,

and free in heart

of

greater good.

Our

love, enchained, and * S. the and Thomas, base moves things Sum. towards ii. to 2, which q. 8z, God a. self-love 7. in the holds act of her subjecting captive her and

self to Him, who is the perfect freedom and the source of all

t Wisdom ii. 23.

6

THE DIVINE LAW OFPROBATION.

freedom.

Is the spirit free that cleaves to her own nature, or the

spirit that seeks the Divine Nature? Is the i.:ind most at liberty

in her own

light, or the mind that comes into the sphere of the

divine and supernal light ? Is the soul enlarged through immer poverty poverty of mind, poverty of heart, and poverty of spirit. but the man who unites himself by subjection to what is It higher is not not of the night ; darkness is its adversary : freedom is of the

day, and God is the sun of our freedom.

free with that freedom with which God sets us free. Freedom is

looks hopefully to the Divine Fountain of light and grace, who is

sion in the body, or through union with the spiritual things of

God ? The pride of independence is isolation, and isolation is

But he who is the subject of greater light than his own, and the

servant of greater powers than his nature can supply, has reached

to sources of freedom beyond the limits of his nature.

the man, then, who isolates himself in the pride of self-sufficiency,

in power, better in wisdom, and greater in good

the man who

To put the law of dependence in a simple point of view, what

ever is created is feeble and requires to be fed.

The heavens

all feed feed the the earth, body the of earth man. the plants, the plants the animals, and

But whatever lives by food depends

on the provider of that food : to rebel against that food or against

its provider is to starve. advance to those better things, the appetite for which is deep

And spiritual creatures are also in a

state of weakness and want of their proper food, all the greater

because their capacity is too immense for anything but God to

satisfy.

spiritual

They, too, must be

food; or they can

fed, and, since they are spirits, with

neither grow, nor strengthen, nor

within them, and for which they Nwere really made. The food of

the mind is truth, and the food of the will is force and good.

Hence the Divine Master of souls has said : " Not in bread alone

doth man live, but in every word that Bearing proceedeth the image from of the God mouth in

of God".*

Spiritual natures are on the summits of creation;

nothing but God above them.

there is

their nature and the consciousness of God in that image, they

are His immediate subjects, and He their Father and Feeder.

For the Lord God is the Pastor of souls, feeding them as a shep

herd his sheep ; andwhen He appoints other shepherds, they feed

*S. Matthew iv. 4.

THE DIVINE LAW OFPROBATION.

7

not from their own substance, but from His eternal stores.

But

unless the spiritual children be subject to the Father, how can

they be fed ?

A stomach that loathes its food makes a weak and

sickly the will body is the ; and receiver a soul that and revolts the second against mover, its nourishment meeting the cannot gift,

have spiritual strength.

God is the first Giver and the first Mover;

making it her own, and malting it fruitful.

But if the receiver

responds not to the Divine Giver, if the gift be left unregarded,

the mind is not enlightened, the heart is not nourished, the soul

is in a worse plight through her neglect than before the gift was

offered.

There may be an idle, sentimental, passive submission

to the gift, but this will do nothing for the soul s good.

There

must be an active subjection and an earnest correspondence to

God and His grace, to meet and mingle with the good move

ments of God, to enrich and fertilize our powers with His gifts.

Government is as necessary to the soul as food, and spirits on

their venturous way from ignorance to truth, from nothingness to at the cost of yours ; but a master you must have.

If you choose

the first, you choose freedom ; if you choose the second, you

generous, bid farewell or to who liberty. is so well There acquainted is no master with you so and large-minded, your require so

choose a tyrannical master, who thinks but of his own interests

interested in your well-being and advancement, or you may

ments, as God; no father so loving and bountiful; no friend so who goes by the name of Myself.

God, require the Divine Wisdom to lead them, the Divine Lord

to govern them. But there can be no government without sub

jection.

You may choose a wise and beneficent master, who is

free from all jealousy ; none who so completely loves you for

your greater good. Whilst there is no tyrant so narrow-minded,

so proud-hearted, so exacting, so suspicious, so utterly, bent on

keeping you to your own littleness,

as the one we all know so

well, of whose tyranny we have had such bitter experience, and

This name has such an un

pleasant sound to all ears, but our own, that even whilst cherish

ing what it signifies, we find it prudent to keep it as much