« ÎnapoiContinuă »
Him still endures. And how is this to be understood ? “ All unrighteousness is sin,” but “there is a sin not unto death.” Some sins do, and some sins do not, separate the soul from God. All have the sinfulness of sin, but all are not alike. There was sin in Judas : St. James and St. John were not sinless ; yet these were in perpetual communion with their Lord ; while the traitor, even at the last supper, was already cut off from His fellowship. This shews us the distinction between venial and mortal sins; that is, between those sins which do, and those which do not, separate the soul from God. Such sins need deep repentance, but they do not separate true but failing hearts from their Redeemer's grace and love.
When I say, then, a conscience clear from sin, I mean, clear from the memory of sins unrepented,
, and from the presence of sins still indulged. An example, perhaps, may make this plainer. Suppose two friends, one gentle and forgiving, the other smouldering with anger. They may live together 'and converse, they may exchange outward tokens of affection, but they have no communion. There is in the one a spirit which suspends all fellowship of soul. Light and darkness, harmonies and discords, can as little blend as their sympathies and tempers. Or, to take an example
in our own minds. We know how any irritation or evil thought clouds and casts out all holy love, aspiration, and desire. So long as it lasts, it possesses the whole soul, and all higher affections are banished.
They are mutually destructive: they cannot co-exist. We are at variance with ourselves ; between our better and our worse self there is a direct contradiction. So it is in the communion of Christ with us. A mind that is proud, selfish, or angry, directly repels the mind of our Lord. Would this trembling woman have dared to draw near and touch even the hem of His garment, harbouring in her heart a consciousness of wilful sin ? Her very faith, which taught her that there was in Him a power mighty to heal, would have taught her that there was in Him also a power mighty to punish. Her faith was not more strong than pure. So when we draw near and touch Him in that holy Sacrament, we must take heed that there be not in us any thing at variance with His character and spirit; that His love, purity, gentleness, humility, truthfulness, may find in us no contradictions, no provocations, no antagonists; that is, no wilful cherishing of a a spirit at variance with His own. There will be, alas, in all of us the remainders and the inclinations out of which these provocations spring ; but if they are not indulged, if they are striven against
and lamented, they are our sicknesses and our afflictions; our wounds which moved His pity to die for us, to unite us to His own life-giving body, and still to dwell among us by a perpetual presence, that we may touch Him and be healed.
3. We will take one more disposition of worthy communion, and that is, a sincere desire of perpetual union with Him. If we may venture to use an earthly example, we may consider how the presence of any wise and holy friend subdues the worse and sustains the better part of our character. We know how variously we are tempted by various persons : how with some we have no restraint, with others we are ever on our guard; how some provoke our faults, and others seem to lay a spell upon them; their society raises us above ourselves, awakens better desires, higher aspirations, worthier motives; their tone of voice, their look, their bearing, allure and win us from ourselves. So long as we are with them, we seem better men, nearer to God's kingdom, freer from temptation, stronger to control ourselves. And this may in some faint way express the power of Christ's presence upon our hearts. So long as we hold by Him and He by us, our inward sinfulness dies down and disappears. Earthly desires, inclinations, and thoughts seem cast out as a possession. So long as the eye of our consciousness is fixed upon Him, His light pours in upon us.
The whole of our mind seems to be cleared of every shadow, and to be filled with the brightness of His presence, with light, love, and a holy will. We feel that if He were ever with us, if we could be ever with Him, ever touching Him, we should draw into our souls perpetual virtues of sanctity and strength. It seems to us as if we could never sin again, never see sin in any other light than the light of His presence, never again care for the world, or hanker after life, or faint in loving Him. It seems at the time as if we were in very deed“ bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh,” spirit of His spirit, mind of His mind, heart of His heart, will of His will; as if He held us in our whole nature to Himself, uniting us to His divine person, “ that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood,” that, by an ineffable union and intermingling of His very self with ours, “ we dwell in Him, and He in us.”
COMMUNION WITH CHRIST.
St. John xiii. 23.
“There was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom
WHAT name is more blessed than this title
by which St. John conceals himself? Who was ever more favoured than he ? It was a sweet memory to him, in his old and solitary age, to remember that night of awe, in which he lay upon the bosom of his Lord. What was all that he had ever suffered, long years of toil and weariness, with contradiction and persecution, bondage, and a martyrdom of will, to the consciousness of his Master's love? And yet it was doubtless for some deeper reason that the evangelist wrote these words. It was not to publish abroad his own peculiar favours, nor to prefer himself to others in his Master's presence. He had long since unlearned to seek “the right hand” or “the left”