MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE I. 14 THE BEATIFIC VISION OF GOD.
Profile Portrait of Cardinal Philippe de Lévis
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA
14. THE BEATIFIC VISION OF GOD.
I. There are three factors in the vision of God as in the perception of anything else. The first is the subject which sees; i.e., the person possessing the faculty or organ of vision. God is not corporeal but spiritual : so that He is not to be perceived with the bodily eye but with the spiritual faculty or the elevated intelligence of angels and men. Therefore the Lord said to Moses, " Thou canst not see My face; for man shall not see Me and live" (Ex. xxxiii. 20). The intellect is the power of perceiving intellectual objects ; and it has an aptitude and a need for exercising itself on intellectual objects, of which the first and most eminent is God. Further the mind easily acquires an incipient knowledge of God ; and this, like every other faculty, is capable of indefinite development, and indicates the possibility of a transcendent degree of knowledge. There is also in man an intellectual hunger for the Infinite, and a tendency towards it, i.e., towards God. This is shown by the fact that nothing created, whether in the material or the intellectual sphere, can satisfy man s desires and fulfil his ideal of goodness, knowledge and happiness. The natural knowledge of God as seen in the universe does not satisfy this high faculty of vision, this spiritual eye. We require a fuller vision of God here, and a still fuller vision hereafter, if we are to carry out our destiny and develope all the possibilities that are in us. Cultivate clearness of vision ac cording to the indication of Our Lord: " Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. v. 8).
II. The second factor in vision is the medium, like the light which conveys the impression of the object to the eye. Something analogous to this is required to enable man to sec God; according to the Scripture: "In Thy light we shall see light" (Ps. xxxv. 10). The nature of God altogether transcends that of man ; they are in different spheres ; man is absolutely incapable by himself of seeing God as He is. His faculties are such that they are not sensitive to the vibrations of that finer spiritual light which makes God visible. These faculties require to have some quality added to them corresponding to a new sense, so that they may perceive the rays as they come direct from God and not merely as they are reflected from creatures. This supernatural quality is called "the light of glory." This is the "eternal light" which we implore for the souls in purgatory. Even in this life the faithful can say, "the light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us " (Ps. iv. 7). They have a light and a vision, by which they can see, and know, and under stand things which for others are wrapped in impenetrable darkness. No happiness is so great as the possession of this. It is a foretaste of the vision which we shall enjoy in heaven
III. The third factor in vision is the object present before us. Our faculties, which cry out for an infinite object to satisfy them, and that sense in us which has an aptitude for God, are proofs that God will some day be within their range. In heaven the Divine Essence will be present to us in a better way than it is present to every creature in this world. In what way that indescribable Essence will be manifested to us we cannot now conceive. This only we know that God will not be shown to us as at present, in His creatures, His images, His reflections, or in figure, but in Himself, directly, and without intermediary. So the Apostle tells us : " We see now through a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I am known" (1 Cor. xiii. 12). How wonderful, how novel, how far beyond all expectation will be the heavenly vision when it is suddenly unveiled before us ! How little we can anticipate now that revelation of glory and delight, the revelation of divine love for us, and of our capacity for loving God !
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.