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THE life of God is very vast. It is a thing to be thought rather than to be spoken of, nay, to be seen in the mind rather than to be thought. It is very vast. It seems to grow vaster every day. We kneel down before it in our prayers, as a man might kneel to pray on a great seashore. God lies before us as an ocean of infinite life. We kneel upon the shore. But behind us rolls the same great ocean. Suddenly it is at our right hand and on our left. We look upward, but the sky is gone. An ocean rolls where there was sky when we first knelt down to pray. The boundless waters stretch above us like a living canopy. The shore on which we kneel gives way. It is no shore. We are kneeling on the waters. The same eternal ocean rolls beneath us. We are hemmed in on every side by this ever-blessed ocean of infinite being. How full it is of burning life, how masterful, how soundless, how unchangeable!

The life of God is very vast. I feel it overawing me more and more, as I go on thinking of it. God is very simple. He is simply God. He is to be adored in His simplicity. His perfections are Himself, and He is simply all his perfections. His perfections are not manifold. They are but one. He is Himself His only perfection. His attributes are our ways of looking at Him, of speaking of Him, of worshipping Him. His perfections are not separate from each other, nor from Himself. We cannot comprehend so simple a simplicity. We have not purity of understanding sufficient to apprehend so infinitely pure an idea. It is on this account that we take the idea of God to pieces in our own minds, and contemplate and love and worship Him from a thousand points of view. We have no other way of dealing with the incomprehensible. Speaking then of the Divine perfections in this sense, it appears to me that none of His attributes call forth so much worship in my heart as His life. His life amazes me; and yet it melts me with love. He seems to me least like an infinitely perfect creature, when I contemplate Him as life; and when He is least like an infinitely perfect creature, He is most like the indescribable God. That view of Him is less distinct than many others; but it appears to my mind more true on that very account.

The life of God is very vast. This is the thought which comes to me when I put before myself the empire of the Precious Blood. The life of God is blessedness in His Own Self. It is the joy of His unity, the fact of His simplicity. Once He was without creatures; and the calm jubilee of His immutable life went on. There could be no impulses in that which had had no beginning. His life started from no point, and reached to no point; therefore it could have no momentum: that is a created idea. He was imperturbable bliss. What can be more self-collected than immensity? His infinite tenderness comes from His being imperturbable, though at first sight there seems to be contradiction between the two. When He was without creatures, they were not a want to Him. His unbeginning life was unspeakably centred in Himself, and so went on. He became, what He had not been before, a Creator. But no change passed upon Him. All His acts had been in Himself before: now He acted outside Himself. But no change passed upon Him. Hitherto all His acts, which were the Generation of the Son and the Procession of the Holy Ghost, had been necessary: now His creative acts were free. Still no change passed upon Him. Still the calm jubilee of the unbeginning life went on. As it was before creation, so it was after it, a jubilant life of unutterable simplicity. These are things we can only learn by loving. Without love they are merely hard words. God worked, and then God rested. Yet creation had been no interruption of His everlasting rest. Nevertheless, that Sabbath of God, of which Scripture tells us, is a wonderful mystery, and one full of repose to toiling, seeking, straining creatures. What was that seventh day's rest? To the untoiling Creator preservation is as much an effort as creation, and quite as great a mystery. But even creation, the evoking of being out of nothing, was not suspended. Human souls are forever being created, created out of nothing. Perhaps new species of animals may be so also. What then was His rest? Perhaps it is only another name for that expansive love, which as it were arrested itself to bless its beautiful creation out of its extreme contentment and ineffable complacency.

Still the vast life of God goes on. He was free to create; and He made His creation free. Perhaps those two thing's have much to do with each other. He made Himself an empire outside Himself, and crowned Himself over it, the kingliest of kings. God is very royal. Royalty is the seal which is set on all His perfections, and by which we see how they are one. He enfranchised His empire, and then began to reign. Still there was no change. His free people dethroned Him. Oftentimes now in the depths of prayer the love of His Saints beholds Him sitting in dust and ashes an uncrowned king, as it were piteously. But all this is embraced within His vast life without a shadow of change. It was part of the eternal idea of creation, that one of the Divine Persons should assume a created nature. The Second Person did so. He has carried it to Heaven, and placed it in the bosom of the Holy Trinity for endless worship. This has displaced nothing. The vast life goes on. No pulse beats in it. No succession belongs to it. No novelty happens to it. The Precious Blood of the Son's Human Nature would have been a pure beauty, a pure treasure of God, an unimaginable created life, if there had been no sins. But there was sin, and the destiny of the Precious Blood was changed. But there was no change in the Divine life. The Precious Blood became the ransom for sin. The Precious Blood had to conquer back to God His revolted empire. It had to crown Him again, and to be His imperial vice-regent. What stupendous mutabilities are these! Yet there is no change in the vast life of God. Its very vastness makes it incapable of change. It has no experiences. It goes through nothing. It cannot begin, or end, or suffer. It works while it rests; and it rests while it works; and it neither works nor rests, but simply lives, simply is. O adorable life of God! blessed a thousand thousand times be Thou in the darkness of Thy glory, in the incomprehensible sweetness of Thy mystery!

To us the Precious Blood is inseparable from the life of God. It is the Blood of the Creator, the agent of redemption, the power of sanctification. Moreover, to our eyes it is a token of something which we should call a change in God, if we did not know that there could not be change in Him. It seems to give God a past, to recover for Him something which He had lost, to be a second thought, to remedy a failure, to be a new ornament in the Divinity, a created joy in the very centre of the uncreated jubilee. The empire of the Precious Blood is due to its position in the history and economy of creation, or, in other words, to its relation to the adorable life of God. It seems to explain the eternity before creation, inasmuch as it reveals to us the eternal thoughts of God, His compassionate designs, His primal decrees, and His merciful persistence in carrying out His designs of love. It. makes visible much that in its own nature was invisible. It casts a light backward, even upon the uttermost recesses of that old eternity. Just as some actions disclose more of a man's character than other actions, so the Precious Blood is in Itself a most extensive and peculiarly vivid revelation of the character of God. The fact of His redeeming us, and, still more, the way in which He has redeemed us, discloses to us His reason for creating us; and when we get some view, however transient and indistinct, of His reason for creating us, we seem to look into the life He leads as God. The light is so light that it is darkness; but the darkness is knowledge, and the knowledge, love.

We are to speak of the empire of the Precious Blood. But we must first see in what its royal rights are founded. The Precious Blood ministers to all the perfections of God. It is the one grand satisfaction of His justice. It is one of the most excellent inventions of His wisdom. It is the principal feeder of His glory. It is the repose of His purity. It is the delight of His mercy. It is the participation of His power. It is the display of His magnificence. It is the covenant of his patience. It is the reparation of his honor. It is the tranquility of his anger. It is the imitation of his fruitfulness. It is the adornment of his sanctity. It is the expression of his love. But, above all, it ministers to the dominion of God. [Emphasis in bold added.] It is a conqueror and conquers for Him. It invades the kingdom of darkness, and sweeps whole regions with its glorious light. It humbles the rebellious, and brings home the exiles, and reclaims the aliens. It pacifies; it builds up; it gives laws; it restores old things; it inaugurates new things. It grants amnesties; and dispenses pardons; and it wonderfully administers the kingdom it has wonderfully reconquered. It is the crown, the sceptre, and the throne of God's invisible dominion.

I said its rights were founded in its relation to the life of God; and its relation has to do especially with that which is kingly and paternal in the character of the Creator. The dominion of God is part of His invisible beauty; but the Precious Blood is the scarlet mantle of His eternal royalty. God became a king by becoming a Creator. It was thus He gained an empire over which His insatiable love might rule. We are obliged to speak of creation as if it were a gain to Him Who has all fullness in Himself. He created because of His perfections, because He was God, because He was the infinitely blessed God that He is. Temporal things came into existence because there were eternal things. Time is a growth of the ungrowing eternity. Nature is very beautiful, whether we think of angelic or of human nature. Created nature is a shadow of the Uncreated Nature, so real and so bright that we cannot think of it without exceeding reverence. Yet God created neither Angels nor men in a state of nature. This is, to my mind, the most wonderful and the most suggestive thing which we know about God. He would have no reasonable nature, even from the very first, which should not be partaker of His Divine Nature. This is the very meaning of a state of grace. He as it were clung to His creation while He let it go. He would not leave it to breathe for one instant in a merely natural state. The very act of creation was full of the fondness of maternal jealousy. It was, to speak in a human way, as if He feared that it would wander from Him, and that His attractions would be too mighty for the littleness of finite beings. He made it free; yet he embraced it so that it should be next to impossible it should leave Him. He gave it liberty, yet almost overpowered its liberty with caresses the very moment that he gave it. Oh, that Majesty of God, which seems clothed with such worshipful tranquility in the eternity before creation, how passionate, how yearning, how mother-like, how full of inventions and excesses, it appears in the act of creation!

God lost nothing by the fall of Angels or of men. Yet, in our way of thinking, how great must have been the loss to a love which had longed so passionately to keep His creation with Him! It was gone now. That mysterious gift of liberty had been too strong for that other mysterious tenderness of creating us in a state of grace. There was nothing of failure, or of disappointment, or of frustrate love, in all this. But how there was not we cannot tell. We know that the vast life of God went on the same in its unshadowed, unimpeded gladness. Yet to our ignorance it seems as if the Creator would have to begin all over again, as if He would have to pause, to collect Himself, to hold a council of His attributes, and either to retire into Himself or begin afresh. None of these things are compatible with His everlasting majesty. They are only our ways of expressing those Divine things which are unspeakable. But what is before us? By an excess of tenderness, which only grows more amazing the longer we think of it, God had cloistered His creation in the supernatural state of grace. The cloister was broken. Almost the first use of angelic and human freedom had been sacrilege. What will God do? Creative love has no mutabilities. Mercy itself shall find out a way to satisfy justice, rather than that this dear creation shall be lost. Time shall not be a grave in which eternal ideas shall be buried. The lost shall be found; the fallen shall be raised; the ruined shall be redeemed. The original idea of creation shall be reinstated, without the gift of freedom being withdrawn. The everlasting scheme of Divine love shall be inaugurated again in all the plenitude of Divine power, with all the splendor of Divine wisdom, only illustrated now even more than before with the flames of Divine love. The act shall be the act of God, the act equally of all the Three Divine Persons. Yet it shall be appropriated to One of Them, to the Second Person. The instrument shall be a created thing, not created only for the purpose, for it would have been even if sin had not been; but it shall be a created thing whose value shall be simply infinite, because of its belonging to an Uncreated Person. It was the Precious Blood.

One of the ways, in which God chiefly makes Himself known to us, is by His choices. Choice reveals character; and, when we know the character and excellence of Him Who chooses, the choice enables us both to understand and appreciate the object chosen. Thus, when God chooses the weak things of the world to confound the strong, and the foolish things to confound the wise, He makes a very broad revelation to us of His character. He discloses principles of action quite alien from those of creatures, and never adopted by them except from supernatural motives and in conscious imitation of Him. We know also that the things in question are in themselves weak and foolish, because He chose them on that account. In the same way, when He chooses persons for some great and high end, His very choice endows them with gifts proportionate to their work and dignity. We have often no other means of judging except His choice. It is thus that we measure the immense holiness of the Apostles. It is thus that we learn the incomparable sanctity of the Baptist. It is by comparing God's choice of Him with the office he was to fill, that we come to see the glory and the grandeur of St. Joseph, and to contemplate with reverent awe the heights of a holiness to which such familiarity with God was permitted. We are astonished that familiarity should be the characteristic of devotion to a Saint so high; and yet we perceive that it must be naturally the special grace of a devotion to one who outdid all others in the spirit of adoration because he outstripped all others in tender familiarities with God. It is thus also that we gain some idea of the beauty and splendor of St. Michael, one of the foremost jewels in the crown of God's glorious creation. Thus, also, the choice of God is the only measure by which we can approach to any knowledge of His Immaculate Mother. As her office was inconceivable either by Angel or by Saint, unless it had been revealed, so also is the immensity of her holiness. The choice of God lights up vast tracts of her magnificence, and shows us also how much there is left for us to learn and to enjoy in Heaven. The grandeur of her office is infinite, as St. Thomas says, and the omnipotence of God could not create a grander office: what then must be the infinity of her grace? It is God Who chose her, the God of numberless perfections, of illimitable power, and of lavish munificence. His choice tells us that the mighty empress of Heaven was adorned with the utmost participation of the Divine splendor of which a creature was capable. What regalia must they be which come out of the inexhaustible treasures of God, and which are chosen for her whom He chose eternally to be His blessed Mother? So, finally, we get our idea of the worth of the Precious Blood by seeing the end for which the Creator chose it. It is an idea which cannot be put into words, or be estimated by human figures. If we may dare so to speak, God chose it as the auxiliary by which He would save Himself in the day of battle with the powers of darkness, when the battle was going against Him, and when He vouchsafed to appear as if put to His last resource. I know not how else to state that choice of His, and the circumstances under which He made it, which cover with such dazzling splendor the redeeming Blood of Jesus. It had to save a falling creation, which God had hindered His Own omnipotence from saving, because He had conferred upon it the gift of freedom.

It is hard to breathe in heights like these. We have climbed the mountains of God's primal decrees, and have penetrated to those first fountains of creation which lie far up in the solitude of eternity. It is difficult to breathe in such places, amid such lonely sublimities, in such Divine wildernesses, where the features are so unlike those of earthly scenery. Let us then rest a while, and think of our own poor selves. Of what avail to us is all this magnificent election of the Precious Blood, its astonishing relation to the immutable life of God, its intrinsic dignity in the plans of the Creator, and the fearfulness of its resplendent beauty as the sole successful auxiliary of the God of Hosts, unless it is the one joy of our lives that we ourselves are its happy conquest? What use is it to us that it looks as if it had rescued the Creator from failure, if it does not ransom us from sin? What does it matter to us that it makes wonderful harmony between God's seemingly opposite decrees, if it does not make sweet peace between our heavenly Father and ourselves? The Precious Blood saved God an empire; and He has given it that empire for its own. It is the one thing needful for ourselves, that we should belong to its empire and be happy beneath its rule. One sin forgiven, one sinful habit brought into subjection, one ruling passion uniformly tamed, one worldliness courageously kept down - these are more to us than the theological glories of the Precious Blood. Indeed, these glories are chiefly glorious to us, in that they tell us more and more of our dear God, that they widen our minds and deepen our hearts to make room for Him, and that they heat the furnace of our love seven times hotter than it was before. Theology would be a science to be specially impatient with, if it rested only in speculation. To my mind it is the best fuel of devotion, the best fuel of Divine love. It catches fire quickest; it makes least smoke; it burns longest; and it throws out most heat while it is burning. It is the best fuel of love, until the soul is raised to high degrees of mystical contemplation; and then, as if to show how needful it was still, God infuses theological science even into the ignorant and youthful. If a science tells of God, yet does not make the listener's heart burn within Him, it must follow either that the science is no true theology, or that the heart which listens unmoved is stupid and depraved. In a simple and loving heart theology burns like a sacred fire.

But, if this is the relation of the Precious Blood to Creation, in what relation does it stand toward the Incarnation? This also we must consider.



--------------HOLY FACE