MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE I.11. PURITY, SANCTITY AND BEAUTY OF GOD.
St Catherine of Siena
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA
11. PURITY, SANCTITY AND BEAUTY OF GOD.
I. The purity of God is a negative term indicating that He is exempt from all admixture of anything inferior to Himself, from all fault, taint, imperfection; as gold is pure when it is free from all dross or alloy of inferior metals. "Thine eyes are too pure to behold evil, and Thou canst not look on iniquity" (Hab. i. 13). God is purity most perfect and inconceivable, in Himself, in creation, and in His decrees concerning us, His sinful creatures. Although in such close relations with material things and with sinners, He contracts no imperfection from them. There is in Him no passion or disturbance, for He is immovable in His perfect tranquillity. He is not hasty or inconsiderate, for He is never taken by surprise. He does not the smallest wrong to any, for He is perfect justice. He is not harsh or vindictive, for He is infinite mercy and love. The defects which produce sin in us have no place in God. There is no malice in Him on account of His infinite goodness; no ignorance on account of His perfect wisdom ; no weakness on account of His omnipotent power. How then can men murmur against God as if any iniquity could be in Him, or His decrees, or His actions? He is not like us who are full of impurities even in our holiest actions. Ask for purity of mind and heart and body, that God may dwell in you without a rival.
II. Sanctity is a positive term indicating the possession of all moral perfections. "The Lord is just in all His ways and holy in all His works" (Ps. cxliv. 17). Every virtue that we recognize, whether by its presence or its absence in men, exists in God in a supereminent degree. The Divine Essence is the first source and the full reservoir of all virtues and holiness. We have seen much excellence in saints and other great men ; it has seemed wonderful to us and almost unattainable ; but it is all only a shadow compared to the reality of holiness in God. God is upright in all His works, perfectly just without failing in mercy, in finitely merciful without making justice a mockery. He is liberal in His gifts, setting no bounds to them but what we ourselves place. His patience never grows tired under our repeated offences. His prudence foresees all things and orders them for the best. God is not exacting or hard in demanding from us more than we can render to Him ; but He is most generous in making broad allowance for our inevitable shortcomings. He is pacific in receiving us back as soon as we accept the overtures of His love. God is most true ; His words will never pass away, and He will never forget His promises. Glorify God therefore with His angels, saying, " Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of hosts" (Isa. vi. 3). Imitate His holiness by the practice of all virtues.
III. God also possesses the attribute of beauty in an infinite degree. This is another quality of beings when complete and well ordered, and it is the cause of intense delight. Consider how much there is of beauty in the world. We find it in harmonious sounds, in form and colour, in nature and art, in words and in ideas, in the expressions of the countenance, in the moral character of men. It is a special quality different from goodness, truth, utility. How abundant it is, and how much pleasure it affords ! It exists also in God in infinite perfection, and in diverse forms more varied and more intense than we can imagine. The beauty of God will ravish us with delight for all eternity. This same beauty of God exists in your soul when you are in the state of grace ; you are then more pleasing in the eyes of God than all the wonderful beauty of the material world. Possessing this in yourself and in God, you can afford to dispense with earthly pleasures, to live a life of mortification, and to look forward to the enjoyment of that " Beauty which is ever ancient and ever new." Cultivate this divine quality in your soul that God may take delight in beholding you.
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.